Donald Trump has a curious understanding of what freedom of speech means. His most recent head-scratcher involves a claim that writing unflattering newspaper stories about him is not protected speech.
Following a lengthy Sunday New York Times piece detailing dysfunction in Trumpland, The Donald tweeted, “It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!”
Ken White, a First Amendment lawyer, told me: “Trump’s complaint is misleading…Political arguments, characterizations, opinions based on disclosed facts, and interpretations can’t be ‘false’ for First Amendment purposes.”
Trump may not like the fact that 20-plus anonymous sources provided the New York Times with an unflattering portrait of his campaign, but that doesn’t make it “false.” Of course, Trump had no problem with news outlets running with his made-up claim in 2011 that Barack Obama “doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim.”