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.