Trump vs The First Amendment

Donald Trump believes the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides too much protection of free speech.  In an interview with WFOR, CBS’ Miami affiliate, he lamented that, under current law, “our press is allowed to say whatever they want.”

“Well in England they have a system where you can actually sue if someone says something wrong. Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and get away with it. And i think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong… I’m a big believer tremendous believer of the freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me but if they make terrible, terrible mistakes and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people. I’m not just talking about me I’m talking anybody else then yes, i think you should have the ability to sue them. Well, in England you have a good chance of winning. And deals are made and apologies are made. Over here they don’t have to apologize. They can say anything they want about you or me and there doesn’t have to be any apology. England has a system where if they are wrong things happen.” – Donald Trump, Idiot Extraordinaire

Now, the reality is that Trump would be highly unlikely to win his threatened suit against the New York Times even under English law, especially since English defamation law was amended in 2013 to add a “public interest” exemption. This change would potentially allow the New York Times to escape liability in England even if they were unable to definitely prove the truth of their reporting.

However, more to the point, yesterday the New York Times printed a full two page list of people that Trump has insulted.


The image is too small to read, but here is a link to the online version  which was originally posted a couple of weeks ago and has since been updated.

Donald Trump must believe that courtesy and decency, that the very 1st Amendment rights to freedom of speech, in fact, are a one-way street.  He can say virtually anything that flows out of his mouth about anybody he happens to not like at a particular time, but let anybody say anything about him, and he is ready to SUE SUE SUE!!!

Predictably, his biggest target has been Hillary Clinton, followed by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, as well as other previous presidential candidates.  But let us take a look at just a few of his insults to individual journalists:

  • Of The Washington Post’s George Will: “made many bad calls”“lost his way long ago”“one of the most overrated political pundits”“deadpan”“BORING”“dopey”“broken down political pundit”“wrong almost all of the time”“should be thrown off Fox News”“boring and totally biased”“broken down”“wrong on so many subjects”
  • Of conservative commentator, Glenn Beck: “dumb as a rock”“crying”“lost all credibility”“failing”“irrelevant”“wacko”“failing, crying, lost soul”“sad”“has zero credibility”“very dumb and failing”“irrelevant”“mental basketcase”“irrelevant”“viewers & ratings are way down”“a real nut job”“always seems to be crying”“wacky”
  • Of New York Times’ Maureen Dowd: “Crazy”“wacky”“pretends she knows me well–wrong!”“Wacky”“hardly knows me”“makes up things that I never said”“boring interviews and column”“A neurotic dope!”
  • Of Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post: “dummy”“liberal clown”
  • Of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer: “biased”“a @FoxNews flunky”“Iraq war monger”“highly overrated”“clown”“dopey”“should be fired”“a dope”“highly overrated”

The list goes on and on, but check it out for yourself.  Notice how often he uses the words “dumb”, “dummy”, and “dopey”.  All things considered, I should think that this constitutes slander far more than the reporting of a story that is purportedly true by a major newspaper on the subject of a presidential candidate.

And it is not just individual journalists he attacks.  One of the major targets of Trump’s foul mouth is actually Fox News, which has a history of being a mouthpiece for the Republican Party, the party that is supposedly represented by Trump.  In addition to Fox, he has attacked ABC News, The Associated Press, CNBC, CNN, Forbes, Fortune, Huffington Post, NBC, New York Daily News, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and of course The Washington Post.  The only major media outlet I see missing from the list is Breitbart, and since they are kissing cousins in bed together, that is not surprising. Not to mention that earlier in the year he banned a number of media organizations including The Washington Post, Politico and the Huffington Post.

In the past, schools and parents have used the election process, including presidential debates, as a learning tool, a lesson in civics.  This year, however, most are refraining from allowing children to watch.

  • “I likely won’t let the kids watch the debate in case Trump says something I’m not ready to explain to them.” – unknown Twitter user
  • “I lack the ability to control what comes out of the candidate’s mouth, and my daughter lacks the emotional maturity to understand grown-ups acting like misbehaved teenagers cutting down the other candidates,” said John Furjanic, a financial adviser in Chicago. “I don’t want to allow my child to be influenced by bad adult behavior, and I don’t want to take the time to explain away the poor, pouting and mean conduct.”

Most child psychologists and social workers agree that this year’s political process is not appropriate viewing for young children.  Personally, I would argue that it is not appropriate viewing for anybody!  It has certainly increased my level of stress and markedly decreased my level of patience with little things.

Back to the issue of Trump’s desire to curtail the protections of the 1st Amendment.  I would fight that one tooth and nail, as I believe a free press is arguably the most important ingredient for an ongoing democracy.  I would, however, like to see politicians and other public figures learn about responsible speech.  To call anybody a dummy or a dope is not responsible, is not appropriate under any circumstances. Anybody who is considered intelligent enough to vie for public office should certainly be smart enough to refrain from childish, hurtful insults.

15 thoughts on “Trump vs The First Amendment

  1. This is a very well-written, thought-provoking post. It’s interesting that Trump will defend the 2nd amendment to the hilt (even though he and his supporters don’t really understand what it says), but will wipe his bottom with the first amendment. Pick your amendments, I guess. I see him as a much larger threat to the first amendment than Hillary is to the 2nd. I think that the fear-mongering caused by those that say Hillary will be coming to get your guns is utter nonsense. I do think Trump would seek to silence the media as president. Which person moves us closer to a dictatorship? Trump also wants to prosecute his opponent if elected. Another warning sign, in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Don! Yes, I agree … I believe Trump would happily do away with the 1st Amendment if he could, while Hillary simply wants to make the country a little bit safer. Let’s face it … he is, in fact, the ‘man who would be king’, while she is trying hard to be the voice of reason. Yes, he would, to whatever extent he could, shift our system to more of a dictatorship. It is one of the reasons I write frequently about Erdogan and Turkey, as what I see happening there is chillingly like what could happen here under a Trump presidency.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is consistent with Trump’s behavior generally. He is blind to his own shortcomings but very aware of others who attack him. He is above suspicion and therefore any attacks by others necessarily means, in his mind, that the others are out to get him. There’s a bit of paranoia there that is part of his mental illness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, this boggles the mind. Let me reiterate this from another angle. This candidate believes the 2nd amendment which is interpreted too liberally in favor of gun sales is sacrosanct, but thinks the 1st amendment gives too much power to journalists, who Thomas Jefferson said are essential to our democracy.

    But, let me ask the larger question that too few ask. Why is it one man can call everyone else stupid, dumb, lazy, loser, ugly, etc. and then cry foul when someone asks him a legitimate question? This man is a 70 year old petulant child. But, since we I am one of the stupid ones, let me ask a few legitimate questions?

    – Mr. Trump you have said climate change is a hoax a number of times on the campaign trail and before even equating it to being invented by the Chinese to steal our jobs? Yet, in Ireland, your golf course formally petitioned the Irish government to build a sea wall to hold back the rising seas due to climate change? Which is it?
    – Mr. Trump you have said the unemployment rate is as high as 42%, yet all the governors are patting themselves on the back that they brought the unemployment rate down to 3%, 4%, 5% or 6% in their state. Since the US unemployment rate is the compilation of the state rates, either you are lying or 50 governors are, which is it?
    – Mr. Trump you say all these woman accusing you of sexual assault and walking in beauty pageant dressing rooms while they are changing are all lying. Yet, you have admitted in two tapings, one on Access Hollywood, and one with Howard Stern, that you did and do both. Plus, in response to your threat to sue these women, there attorneys said bluntly, “bring it on.” With your recorded sexual assault and harassment claims, would you really be that stupid to sue these women, who have legitimate counsel? While we are at it, do you want to comment on your trial date in December accusing you of allegedly raping a 13 year old girl?

    Sorry for the soap box. Great post, Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t suppose he realises that he will not be able to say many of the things he says or claims….unless, of course he regards himself as above the Law…like so many dictators…. 😉 Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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