From the very beginning of his 2016 campaign through today, Donald Trump has demonstrated his hatred of the Constitution and how it was created to limit the power of government. Nowhere has this been more evident than in his self-declared war against the news media, or as he like to call it, the “enemy of the American people.”
Trump’s disdain for the First Amendment and freedom of the press first reared it’s orange-colored head in February 2016 at a campaign rally when he promised to open up libel laws so that when the media “writes purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can them and win lots of money.”
“If I win . . . I’m going to open our libel laws so when they write purposely negative horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
In January 2018, Trump renewed his commitment to dismantle the First Amendment when he announced in a staff meeting that he would again pursue ways to expand libel laws to silence media outlets that publish unfavorable news about him and his policies.
“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values and American fairness. We’re going to take a very, very strong look at that.
”You can’t say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account.”
So, it should come as no surprise that lawyers for Trump and his campaign (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.) announced in a letter to CNN last week their intention to sue the network for “a substantial payment of damages” due to the network’s so-called anti-Trump bias. Lead attorney Charles Harder stated in part:
“Never in the history of this country has a President been the subject of such a sustained barrage of unfair, unfounded, unethical and unlawful attacks by so-called ‘mainstream’ news, as the current situation.
“My clients intend to file legal action against you, to seek compensatory damages, treble damages, punitive damages, injunction relief, reimbursement of legal costs, and all other available legal and equitable remedies, to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
In the Age of Trump, attitudes about freedom of the press have been taking an unconstitutional turn for many years now, even within the so-called conservative Republican Party.
In an August 2017 poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of The Economist, Republicans overwhelmingly supported Trump over the media. And when asked if they “supported or opposed permitting the courts to shut down or fine news media outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are biased or inaccurate, nearly half favored shutting them down, and over half favored fining them.
Media bias is real and expected, but it’s not unconstitutional. What IS unconstitutional, however, is any attempt by Trump and the GOP to silence the press simply because they don’t like what is being reported about them.
From the beginning, the Founding Fathers considered freedom of the press a bulwark against out-of-control government, and they believed that citizens should be free to use the press to criticize the government without interference:
“I am … for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
A free press, even a biased one, is vital for holding government accountable . . . and for securing liberty in America.
David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative.
His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.