Even as he appears unstoppable for the GOP nomination, Donald Trump is making fresh campaign promises that are causing some massive waves. The latest target: the media.
Donald Trump is going after the media, threatening to sue publications for writing negatively about him.
During a Friday rally in Texas, Trump launched into a monologue about how he felt that the media was treating him unfairly, alleging that the New York Times and Washington Post, in particular, were not covering him well.
“The New York Times, which is losing a fortune, which is a failing newspaper, which probably won’t be around much longer … but I think the New York Times is one of the most dishonest media outlets I’ve ever seen in my life,” the businessman said. “They have an agenda that you wouldn’t believe.”
“If I become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re gonna have such problems,” Trump said.
One of the things I’m gonna do, and this is only gonna make it tougher for me, and I’ve never said this before, but one of the things I’m gonna do if I win … is I’m gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re gonna open up those libel laws.
So that when the New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace, or when the Washington Post … writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money, instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.
Trump continued his speech, threatening to roll back the media’s First Amendment protections in the Constitution.
“With me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people… We’re gonna open up those libel laws, folks, and we’re gonna have people sue you like you never got sued before,” he said.
We’ve all lamented about the shamefully liberally biased mainstream media, and we’ve cheered Trump and other candidates (like Ben Carson) for calling them out.
However, his comments today are alarming media of all persuasions. While reasonable people would argue press shouldn’t be allowed to freely print material they *know* is untrue, Trump’s suggestion that press who write “negatively” about him should be vulnerable is chilling.
Freedom of the press is a core pillar of a free society. We rely on the media to be able to investigate and speak freely about our leaders without fear of repercussion — as admittedly lacking as the press may be in this regard at times. Indeed, we’ve longed for a press that will do more of the due diligence heavy lifting to help us vet our leaders AND hold them accountable once in office.
Will Trump’s idea — if it proves to be something he indeed could carry out as president, which is another matter altogether — result in media facing lawsuits simply for writing something negative, even if true? Will press shy away from reporting on issues for fear of being tied up in lawsuit — which inevitably are expensive and time-consuming, even if the suit against you is proven to be without merit?
I’ve been outraged by the current administration’s attempts to intimidate or silence some media that prove inconvenient to them (e.g., Sheryl Attkisson, James Rosen]. Surely we don’t want to encourage this type of behavior with the next president, Republican or otherwise.
Whether you are a Trump supporter or not, this is an issue we need to track and let him know we do not support any infringement on our First Amendment rights.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]