President Trump delved deeper into the abyss of authoritarianism this morning when he announced that his administration would be looking at opening up the “libel” laws in a full-throated attack on our First Amendment rights and an obvious attempt to muffle the press.
Speaking to his cabinet and the media, Trump made this announcement (video below):
“We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts. And if somebody says something that’s totally false and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled, will have meaningful recourse.
Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness. So we’re going to take a strong look at that. We want fairness. You can’t say things that are false, knowingly false and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account. We’re going to take a very, very strong look at that. And I think what the American people want to see is fairness.”
His words could not be more hypocritical, considering that he’s spent his entire business career and the majority of his presidential campaign telling outrageous lies and using them to fill his pockets – and spending nearly his entire presidency watching the pundits at FOX News spew statements that are knowingly false with a hideous smile.
The president’s words are likely inspired by the recent release of the Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House book by Michael Wolff, whose salacious work is of questionable veracity by his own admission.
True or not, the allegations in Wolff’s book ring true with a disturbing familiarity – and have been yet another headache that the Trump administration must devote energy to relieving.
Unfortunately for Trump, the “libel laws” are not something that he can just take a “strong look at.”
Trump: "We will take a strong look at our country’s libel laws" so people "can’t say things that are false and knowingly false."
That's rich from him. And ignorant: It's a landmark SCOTUS ruling, not law, that set a high bar for public figures to claim libel. Can't change that.
— Jackie Calmes (@jackiekcalmes) January 10, 2018
The president’s rage against the media has grown in intensity in recent weeks. It remains to be seen whether or not he’ll actually be able to do anything substantial beyond angry posturing to restrain the media – but the existential threat remains deadlier than ever.
Watch his remarks here:
President Trump: "We are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws … You can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account." pic.twitter.com/FUK7CTxOQb
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 10, 2018