Monday, May 01, 2017

Trump Wants to Change to Libel Laws to Block Unwanted News

The fragility of Der Trumpenführer's ego seemingly knows few limits - not surprising since he is a malignant narcissist - and now the White House has floated the notion of changing the libel laws so that Trump, in true dictator form, can sue any news out let which reports stories he doesn't like. Namely, stories that (i) tell the truth about him and his endless series of lies and untruths, (ii) they dysfunction that reigns in his regime, (iii) his unpopularity outside of the "basket of deplorables" who make up the bulk of his base, and (iv) his likely - in my view - collusion with Russia.  In the mentally ill word of Trump, anything that doesn't support his detached from reality view of himself is "fake news" while in truth, if anything is fake, it is what spills out of his mouth or onto his twitter feed.  The Guardian looks at this disturbing issue.  Here are highlights:
 A day after Watergate reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward issued a stirring call for the press to hold Donald Trump to account, the president’s chief of staff said the White House is actively considering a change to libel laws affecting news reporting. 
“I think it’s something that we’ve looked at,” said Reince Priebus, appearing on ABC’s This Week. “How that gets executed and whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”
On the campaign trail last year, Trump responded to reporting on his policies and background by floating the possibility of a change to libel laws. Such a move would in reality require a change to the US constitution, which enshrines freedom of the press in the first amendment, the supreme court having ruled on the issue.
Undaunted, the president returned to the theme on Thursday, writing on Twitter: “The failing [New York Times] has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?”
On ABC, Priebus cited “articles out there that have no basis of fact and we’re sitting here and 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters”.
Links between Trump aides and Russia affecting the election campaign are the subject of House, Senate and FBI investigations as well as anonymously sourced reporting by major news outlets. Trump has been strongly critical of such reporting, on Russia and other subjects.
Woodward and Bernstein, who won Pulitzer prizes for their exposure of the cover-up of criminal activity by the Nixon White House, spoke at the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington on Saturday night.
Priebus was also asked about Trump’s suggestion that people who burn the American flag should be jailed or have their citizenship revoked. The supreme court has said burning the flag is a form of free speech.
“People need to stand up for our flag,” Priebus said, adding: “It’s something that, again, is probably going to get looked at.”

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