Donald Trump has no love for media outlets who criticize him. The Republican presidential candidate tweeted out what amounted to a threat to The New York Times late yesterday afternoon.
My lawyers want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2016
It comes on the heels of a Vice reporter being arrested for trespassing at a Trump rally (whilst allegedly waiting for the Trump campaign to tell him if he had a press pass). Trump’s campaign has denied involvement. But Trump has also promised to “open up libel laws” and threatened to go after The Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos with an anti-trust suit because the paper was digging into his past. This is very dangerous and something which should cause conservative and libertarian Trump supporters to run towards some other candidate.
It sure won’t be Hillary Clinton because she’s just as bad with the First Amendment. Let’s ignore the fact she gave her first press conference of 2016 in September
Via Matt Welch at Reason:
(Clinton) has consistently backed government intrusions into communications devices, from content-filtering V-chips on television sets to anti-encryption back doors on iPhones. She has established as her litmus test for Supreme Court nominees a commitment to overturn 2010’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which a 5–4 majority overturned on grounds that “the censorship we now confront is vast in its reach” a federally enforced cable TV ban of a documentary film attacking a certain politician named Hillary Rodham Clinton. Several other laws that Clinton championed, including the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), were opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and struck down by the Supreme Court as violations of the First Amendment. And she has grasped the flimsiest reeds of evidence to lay at least partial blame on artistic expression for everything from playground fighting styles to the Columbine massacre to, most infamously, the murder of four U.S. personnel in Libya.
How has Clinton preserved a solid reputation among creative professionals despite such a shaky record on speech? Largely because the industries in her critical crosshairs—Hollywood, Silicon Valley, gaming—lean overwhelmingly Democratic, and Democrats care more about defeating Republicans and defending core progressive issues than having to fend off sporadic state meddling into their workplaces. On November 19, the same day the technology-policy website Techdirt complained in a headline that “Hillary Clinton Joins The ‘Make Silicon Valley Break Encryption’ Bandwagon,” The Washington Post reported that the presidential candidate’s two biggest sources of campaign cash thus far were the technology and communications industries. And Clinton’s biggest donor over the years? Haim Saban (after whom the Brookings forum at the beginning of this article is named), an Israeli-American rock musician who made his first billion from co-creating Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a children’s series that the then–first lady lambasted in 1996 as “one of the most violent television programs on television today.”
Let’s not forget President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has an absolutely awful record of freedom of the press. They’ve gone after Fox News reporter James Rosen, including pulling his personal e-mails and phone logs, and the Associated Press, including home and cell phone numbers, in a “leak investigation.” We obviously don’t know what other news outlets they’ve targeted, but the fact they rank 41st on the 2016 World Press Freedom index (behind countries like the UK, Canada, and Germany) shows the Obama White House dislikes freedom of the press probably about as much as Clinton and Trump do.
But none of this should be surprising given the history the U.S. has with not liking freedom of the press. Look at the Bush Administration’s decision to go after Judith Miller for refusing to reveal her source in the Valerie Plame affair or the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patterson v. Colorado case of 1907, where a Colorado publisher was punished for printing an article which accused judges of cronyism. New Hampshire odiously attempted to punish socialist writer Paul Sweezy for not revealing who were his allies. Socialism is a horrendous philosophy which should be tossed on the ash heap of history, but not at the expense of our freedom and liberty in the United States. The Founding Fathers couldn’t even remember the Constitution after passing the Alien and Sedition Acts, which put a sitting congressman behind bars because he refused to say who distributed his anti-John Adams publication.
See the problem here? The government has continually gone against what it considers its “enemies” because it wants to stay in power and/or keep the public from knowing what happens behind closed doors. This is why Trump’s threats against NYT or Clinton’s extreme reluctance to hold news conferences are very disturbing. Freedom of the press is an important part of our Constitution, just like freedom of association, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. Neither major presidential candidate is in favor of this, so voters should look elsewhere. It’s too bad the Commission on Presidential Debates (which was founded by the Republican and Democratic parties) decided to keep the third party candidates out of the debates.