Donald Trump, the mercurial real estate tycoon who, somehow and surpassing understanding, has promised to “open up” libel laws to make it easier for public figures to sue the media. Of course, the one public figure he has in mind is #Donald Trump, a man notorious for picking feuds with members of the press. One wonders, in fact, if Trump’s desire to settle scores with his enemies is the hidden purpose for his run for the presidency.
It goes almost without saying that Trump’s yearning to strike at reporters who have written and broadcast mean things about him is a direct threat to the First Amendment of the Constitution. Making journalists and commentators more vulnerable to civil litigation is a strategy to impose a chilling effect, to shut down criticism rather than be forced to respond to it. It threatens the New York Times and the humble blogger with equal peril.
Truth to tell, many people, and not just Trump’s followers, hate the media for its political bias. But bias in the media not just manifests itself in attacking people reporters and editors don’t like, but of going easy of those whom they do like. Former President Bill Clinton and current President Barack Obama have benefited from that practice. Indeed, Donald Trump has not been savaged as terribly as he might have been. The media finds him vastly entertaining and some secretly want him to become the Republican nominee for president, the theory being that Hillary Clinton would be able to defeat him in detail. Ironically, Clinton is so bad a candidate and Trump so vicious on the campaign trial, that he might win anyway.
The truism exists that the solution for dishonest speech, of which there is plenty, is not to suppress it, but to respond to it with honest speech. Trump has not been shy about giving back to the media as good as it has sent his way with interest. The solution is not to elect a man to the presidency with such contempt for free speech and give him the power to appoint judges who will see things his way. We’ve already had almost eight years of a president who thinks of the Constitution as a series of suggestions. We don’t want to continue in the same vein. #Election 2016 #Democrats vs Republicans