Editorial: Let Trump decide who stands on his soapbox

The First Amendment prohibits the federal government abridging one’s free speech, but it does not, as a federal judge has ruled, require anyone to provide the soapbox for that speech.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of New York ruled recently that President Donald Trump may not block Twitter users who criticize him because that violates their right to free speech.

“While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the president’s personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him,” the judge said in her 75-page ruling, somewhat exceeding the 140-character limit of Twitter.

Any Twitter user can block people from accessing their online posts and replying to that user and their followers. Trump reportedly has posted 4,000 times on his personal @realDonaldTrump account to nearly 32 million followers. How that cacophony constitutes a public forum in which anyone can be heard strains credulity. But why should the president be obligated to give someone else unfettered access to those who have agreed to follow him?

The president should be treated no differently on his personal @realDonaldTrump account. His official presidential Twitter account, @POTUS — and why there is one of those is a mystery to us — is another matter entirely. He certainly may not block people from commenting on their own social media apps, but he is hardly obligated to accommodate anyone who wants to glom onto his personal Twitter account and use it as platform for their views. It is his soapbox. Create your own.

But the judge said Trump could not block people from following him on Twitter just because they had posted comments to which he objected, because that amounted to “viewpoint discrimination” by a public official in a public forum.

As Ronald Reagan once said: “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!”

If Trump were to make a televised speech from the Oval Office, should the networks be required to keep the cameras rolling while any clown with a rant can piggyback on the speech by dashing up to the microphone? 

It is like freedom of the press, which belongs to anyone who owns one.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

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5 comments on “Editorial: Let Trump decide who stands on his soapbox

  1. Sam says:

    Let Twittter decide if Trump is to have extra abilities to block replies if that’s what other Twitter users get. Oh, and Trumpee is not paying for any microphones.

  2. Rincon says:

    I have to agree that Trump has the right to make his twitter feeds a one way conversation, but it’s a shame that no one can get him to engage in a two way conversation. But maybe we just did. He just held his second news conference since taking the Presidency. It only took him a year and 3 months to work up the courage, but at least he did it. He couldn’t resist again complaining about our press: “Because the U.S. press is very dishonest. Much of it, not all of it,” Do you agree, Thomas? Are large numbers of your colleagues dishonest in their news coverage? Should we deep six our media news – or maybe just the liberal majority?

  3. Bill says:

    For what it is worth, Rincon, I would like to express my observations in this forum graciously provided by Thomas.

    In my experience with the media, the members represent a mixed bag as far as intellectual or personal honesty is concerned, just as most political office holders and seekers do.

    I have met some that I would not trust with either my wallet, my horse, my woman or my dog. Others, are personally and intellectually decent folks.

    IMO, there are is a paucity of real newsmen around these days, either in print or television. A lot of them are young with few life experiences and sometimes shockingly narrow educations.

    Some of them are lazy or simply unwilling to take the time to ascertain the facts. Some are sycophants who try to slant their stories to the perceived biases of the real rascals, the editors and publishers.

    So, Rincon, the question was not specifically directed to Thomas but I could not resist the temptation to comment. I feel a lot better now. Thank you Thomas for providing this forum.

  4. Bill Shuster says:

    Would this ruling stand for a public official on E-mail blocking my first amendment rights? The entire attorney generals office of NV have blocked my postings for the past 2 = years, and still do. If Laxalt is voted in as governor will he also block my input?

  5. Rincon says:

    I agree with much of what you say, Bill. I also see a marginal knowledge base among some journalists and I perceive reporters as a group who are pressed into producing large volumes of material with limited available time. This inevitably leads to mistakes and a lack of consistently thorough research. Journalists also have a left-leaning tendency as a group.

    Nevertheless, we might disagree on the extent of dishonesty on the left and right. I certainly see some stacking of the deck by the mainstream media. For example, their breathless coverage of the Black Lives Matter issue conveniently ignores the fact that 41% of officers shot are by a black perp (when said perp’s race was identified) and yet only 32% of the people shot by cops are black. Doesn’t sound like racism to me.

    They also tacitly accept that somewhere around 95% of the people shot by cops are men, meaning that a man is 20 times as likely to be shot as a woman. Somehow, the press seems to assume that men and women are different (really?), but would never allow any such possibility regarding race.

    On the flip side, the conservative media come up with some real whoppers and almost continually couch issues in flaming partisan terms with no real attempt at objectivity even hinted (at least they’re honest about THAT). I can recall the WSJ headline semi-quoting a scientist as saying global warming is insignificant. He said no such thing. Limbaugh said that Mount Pinatubo put out more carbon dioxide than all of mankind since the beginning of the industrial revolution. In truth, Mt. Pinatubo made just a tiny blip on world CO2. WSJ also used a graph on global temperature, which disagreed with every other graph I’ve seen. The graph was provided by the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, a one man operation hailing from Cave Junction, Oregon, a thriving metropolis of 1,883. OISM apparewntly did not disclose its source. I can go on, if you like.

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