Trump wants to make it easier to sue for libel when the media hurts his feelings

The GOP in Houston (Zuma photo via WSJ)

Donald Trump can dish it out but he can’t take.

In Fort Worth Friday he called for shredding the First Amendment and making it easier for thin-skinned politicians like himself to sue newspapers and others who criticize him by telling the truth.

Apparently with a stroke of his presidential pen or a call on the phone — but not an iPhone because he is boycotting Apple — he plans to “open up libel laws” to make it easier and more profitable to sue the media.

Never mind that the Supreme Court in N.Y. Times v. Sullivan held: “A State cannot, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, award damages to a public official for defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves “actual malice” — that the statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard of whether it was true or false.” But Trump never lets case law or the Constitution get in the way of one of his rants.

Here is a bit of what Trump had to say as reported by Real Clear Politics:

I’ll tell you what, I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met. They’re terrible. The New York Times, which is losing a fortune, which is a failing newspaper, which probably won’t be around that much longer, but probably somebody will buy it as a trophy, keep it going for a little longer. But I think The New York Times is one of the most dishonest media outlets I’ve ever seen in my life. The worst, the worst. The absolute worst. They have an agenda that you wouldn’t believe. And they’re run by incompetent people. They are totally incompetently run. Washington Post, I have to tell you, I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence and I got to tell you, we have a different country than we used to have. We have a different — He owns Amazon. He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That’s not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.

And one of the things I’m going to do, and this is only going to make it tougher for me, and I’ve never said this before, but one of the things I’m going to do if I win — and I hope I do and we’re certainly leading — is I’m going to 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 going to 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, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected. You see, with me, they’re not protected because I’m not like other people but I’m not taking money. I’m not taking their money. So we’re going to open up those libel laws folks and we’re going to have people sue you like you never got sued before. We have many things to do. We have many, many things to do.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, who Trump has threatened to sue for pointing out his utter ignorance on various topics, said in an editorial today: “Ripping the press is old political hat, but it’s not every day that a potential President promises to use government power to punish critics. This follows his attack earlier this week on the Ricketts family of Chicago for donating to a Super Pac that has criticized him. ‘They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!’ he tweeted. Does he plan to sic the IRS on them?”

Trump is little more than a bully who can’t take the insults he is so frequently and vilely dishing out.

Now Trump has been caught in still another lie. He claims he can’t release his “beautiful” tax returns because he is being audited. NPR, among others, checked with various authorities and found there is nothing stopping him from releaseing his IRS form, whether he is being audited or not. Perhaps, he fears the embarrassment of the voters learning he is not such a fabulous and successful businessman after all.

Marco Rubio also caught Trump in being two-faced on immigration. As that WSJ editorial points out, despite his railing about illegal immigrants taking American jobs, he is one of those hiring those illegals.

“According to a New York Times report, some 300 Americans have applied or were referred to work at Mar-a-lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, but 94% were turned down,” the editorial notes. “The resort filled the slots with foreign guest workers. Mr. Trump explained there aren’t enough ‘qualified’ Americans to go around, especially in season, and that without these foreign workers ‘you hurt your business.’ Wait a minute. That’s our argument for immigration reform and more legal immigration. Mr. Trump fails his own immigration test.”

Rubio also challenged Trump on hiring illegal Polish workers for a demolition project in New York and paid a settlement for doing so, but it is under seal. He uses the courts to hide his misdeeds. On stage he just stammered, denied and called everybody in sight liars.

George Will writing in Investor’s Business Daily notes that born-again conservative Trump is really running to the left of Bernie Sanders by promising, without any substance or details, to take care of everybody.

“Donald Trump, unencumbered by any ballast of convictions, would court Bernie Sanders’ disaffected voters with promises to enrich rather than reform the welfare state’s entitlement menu — Trump already says, ‘I am going to take care of everybody’ — and to make America great again by having it cower behind trade barriers,” Will writes.

Train wreck.


17 comments on “Trump wants to make it easier to sue for libel when the media hurts his feelings

  1. John Smith says:

    Just like his buddy and supporter, Steve Wynn.


  2. Rincon says:

    He’s out to lunch when it comes to the immigrants, tax returns, etc., but his comments about the press help explain his popularity. It certainly hits a nerve for me. If I screw up or worse, intentionally deceive a client, I can be sued and have my license yanked. In journalism, misreporting and deception of the public are routine. All in the name of free speech, you know. There needs to be such a thing as journalistic malpractice. In addition, libel and slander laws should apply to famous people and political figures, but only where a jury sees a clear attempt to deceive readers or viewers.

  3. Winston Smith says:

    Alien and Sedition Acts, redux?

  4. Rincon says:

    You paint with too broad a brush. I have no intention of proposing anything near the original Acts. The alien part, of course, belongs to the Republicans, not me. In the original Sedition Act, it said, for example, “Under the Sedition Act, even the rights of American citizens were curtailed by prohibiting assembly ‘with intent to oppose any measure … of the government.” Completely unacceptable. Going too far with a decent idea doomed these flawed pieces of legislation.

    Condemning the whole idea rests on a set of assumptions. You did not ask, for example, who would decide what statements are false – the government? No, the decision makers should be a jury of ordinary citizens. An appeals process would also be necessary.and only behavior of an egregious nature could bring on charges

    In addition, the penalty is important. Did I say anything about jail or floggings? A suitable punishment would be that the speaker or writer be required to inform future audiences of his conviction for a specified period of time. Only if the public perceives the law to be fair would it have any impact.

    The vast sums of money available today can literally and easily produce massive and highly sophisticated disinformation campaigns, utilizing knowledge of manipulating human opinion and behavior gained through scientific study. The public deserves relief from the chronic confusion caused by rampant and fraudulent propaganda..

  5. Rincon says:

    The law does not allow a businessman to publish false information defaming his competitor. I don’t see why it’s perfectly all right for political candidates. Likewise, if a journalist is allowed to intentionally misrepresent the truth, I don’t see why I should be hauled off to court if I make an honest mistake. I’ve never been big on double standards.

  6. nyp says:

    I would love to find the portion of the 1st Amendment that says that private defamation actions against “public figures” must be judged by a higher standard than private defamation actions against private figures.

  7. The Supreme Court found it for you.

  8. nyp says:

    Justice Brennan (of course) found it by adopting “living constitution” jurisprudence.
    After all, you can’t find much about private defamation law in the constitutional text.

  9. Steve says:

    The faithful speak!

  10. Rincon says:

    According to this week’s Time Magazine, climatologists have determined that global sea levels have risen more in the 20th century than in any of the past 27 centuries. Think of all of the voters that are being taken in by this. My defamation act would have taken these obviously frauds to task for their blasphemous research.

  11. Patrick says:

    Sadly Rincon, and although your sarcasm is noted, that would probably be the first lawsuit that would be filed (after they get rid of the Anti-SLAPP laws anyway)

  12. Rincon says:

    Unfortunately, even if the climate skeptics were “convicted” by this kind of court, Conservatives would merely include the judge and jury in their conspiracy theories.

  13. Steve says:

    Did you guys hear Leonardo DiCaprio call AGW climate change last night?

    I note the two are not one and the same.
    AGW is one driver of the change in the ever changing climate. AGW is NOT climate change.

    And he calls half the country stupid…..

  14. Rincon says:

    As my English teacher clearly stated many times, words in sentences are often understood rather than being specifically stated. I hope you don’t insist on a VIN every time your wife asks you something about “the car”. It was obvious to everyone in the audience, except one, that when Dicaprio said, “climate change”, he was referring to anthropogenic climate change. All of us have used the same term in our discussions about climate change with no complaints. Partisanship shouldn’t cause one to nitpick every little thing, but it often does.

  15. Rincon says:

    BTW, when you referred to the “…ever changing climate,” I knew you were referring to the climate of the Earth as opposed to say, Mars or Jupiter. No need to thank me.

  16. […] Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press by opening up libel law. One this topic, I noted a week ago that, like most bullies, Trump can dish it out but he can’t take […]

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