We Don’t Do This: Trump Threatens to Go After NY Times by Changing Libel Laws

He’s made this suggestion before, and it was chilling then.

It’s chilling now.

During his morning tweet storm, President Trump took a swipe at the New York Times, making a thinly veiled suggestion that libel laws should be changed, presumably to target the Times for what he deems “unfair” coverage.

The Hill references back to Trump’s earlier comments, from February 2016:

“I’m gonna open up our libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible, false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” Trump said at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We’re going to open up those libels 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.

“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. We’re going to open up libel laws, and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before,” he said.

I’m not really sure who Trump is expecting to do such a dangerous thing.

The president doesn’t make law, but works with the House and Senate to implement laws, and no sane lawmaker would ever propose a bill that would have such a damning effect on a free press.

Trump has repeatedly gone at the Times this week. This latest tweet is his third swipe in as many days.

If I could give the president one word of advice, it would be: Cool it.

Nobody is saying the New York Times are fair and impartial. Anyone who has paid attention to the partisan politics of this nation over the last several decades knows that most major news outlets are hideously biased, showing a disproportionate amount of favoritism for leftist politics.

That being said, this isn’t Russia, or some other tyrannical regime, where journalists are imprisoned, or even murdered for not carrying water for the administration.

The American way is the free market, which applies to the media world, just as it applies to other businesses.

If the market favors a media outlet and they’re putting out material that people appreciate, their bottom line will show it.

If not, the people have the choice of moving on to another outlet.

In this case, the Times seem to be enjoying a bump.

While the president continues to bash the paper, the increased attention has only helped its business. The company said subscriptions doubled last year during the election and its stock jumped again on Thursday after the president’s tweet.

Whether they can sustain their success for another year, another 10 years, or even longer, that should be left up to the people to decide.

What should never happen, however, is to have a sitting president make not-so-thinly-veiled threats against the free press.

That’s not what we do.

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Susan Wright

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