Here’s what Sir William Blackstone said about the free press in 1769.
The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state: but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public: to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity.
Sometimes we forget that a “free press” does operate with some limits. But those limits are narrowly drawn and a premium is placed upon political speech.