If only…

…there was a legitimate GOP challenger to Trump. Maybe his campaign would have something better to do than file extremely difficult to prove libel suits against media outlets.


“The lawsuits will have to overcome tough legal hurdles if they are to succeed. The Supreme Court has ruled that public officials suing for defamation must prove that any false statements made about them were backed by “actual malice.””

Wonder why MSNBC hasn’t been served yet? Next week? It’s just a “hunch”.

19 thoughts on “If only…

  1. These suits are about throwing jello on the wall and seeing what sticks.

    As I wrote about the NYT suit, the danger is not so much the attacks on the media giants, but the chill it sends to smaller venues which might not be able to afford a defense. This is true even if the suits are tossed.

    What should happen is that the campaign be charged with frivolous suits and forced to pay treble legal fees of the defendants. Or even damages of some kind.

    These attacks are far more dangerous than any gun laws that might be passed.

    Far more.

    If we lose the free press, then the only thing left might be the second if things get too egregious.

    Free press does not mean quality or even veracity. It just means you can criticize the government without risk of retribution or prosecution. Period.

    These suits are trying to hide behind the “campaign”. Yet, it is the campaign of a sitting president.

    Just more evidence that Trump cares not for America or its Constitution which he has sworn an oath to uphold and not side step when he’s is peeved. America and its Constitution are one and the same.

    If these suits do progress, you can bet be there will be a demand for discovery and depositions that can go the heart of executive privilege and the Russia probe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Free press does not mean quality or even veracity.”

      That’s the issue in dispute, isn’t it? Personally, I don’t think it should be as hard as it is to sue over false statements made in public.

      I’d rather have media that are scared to death to get their facts wrong than media which knowingly lie, which appears to be the case here. Free speech may be a right, but there is no right to do wrong, nor does the First Amendment protect wrongdoing.

      Should the Trump Campaign be successful in the suits it has brought, I expect the consequences will trickle down eventually even to forums like this one. We’d all be better off, if that happened.


      1. A scared to death media?

        Ah, the authoritarian side has come alive.

        I would much rather the government be scared of us than the other way around.

        Trumps gets his facts wrong without consequence, but we should be perfect?

        Nah, not in my country, thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: “Nah, not in my country, thank you.”

        Fifty years ago I might have said the same thing. But we have come to a place where nearly all media outlets are controlled by just six corporations and journalism is so corrupt that it has become anti-democratic, even anti-American.

        So, on the principle that circumstances alter cases I have come to the view that we need a venue for resolving disputes that arise over the exercise of public speech rights. It seems to me that the courts are an appropriate venue for hearing and deciding such disputes, and we should want the courts to play this role.

        The point of the First Amendment is to prevent government from making laws that infringe the freedom of speech and of the press. Nothing in the spirit of that protection is meant to prevent legal action when scoundrels speak.


        1. Scoundrel is in the eyes of the beholder. Libel laws protect individuals from scandalous works that are proven to be malicious. Public persona are less protected than you or I.

          Government is neither public nor private persona. It can prosecute, arrest, detain and generally make you suffer badly.

          If what you propose is effective, then Trump would be as liable for smears, name calling and lying.

          But we put up with that crap in the name of sovereign immunity.

          But it is a two way street.

          I stand by my opinion that sacrificing the snippets of revenge for unfavorable coverage is a small price to pay for being able to freely, vigorously voice one’s opinion even if based on thin material.

          Your assertion that we cannot have anti-Democratic or anti-American viewpoints is particularly dangerous in my view.

          History tells us that there is a good reason why dictators and revolutionary movements shut down the media and arrest journalists. I don’t want that here.

          There is enough media support of Trump to counteract even his harshest critics. He uses that to the hilt. If that doesn’t satisfy him, too bad.

          To wrap, I would much rather have a president or any politician to be scared to death to get the facts wrong. Make the politicians prove their cases to the public and at the polls.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. RE: “If what you propose is effective, then Trump would be as liable for smears, name calling and lying.”

          So be it. I doubt that Trump would be in as much trouble as you imagine, since he is just a citizen, not a journalist to whome professional standards might apply.

          RE: “Your assertion that we cannot have anti-Democratic or anti-American viewpoints is particularly dangerous in my view.”

          That isn’t my assertion. Please try to be accurate.

          My assertion is that a corrupt media is harmful to democracy and virtuous nationalism. The courts can provide and institutional venue for addressing media corruption. And they should.


        1. There is another overlooked, but obvious reason, Trump is filing these suits.

          He is playing to his base.

          His lawyers know he can’t win, but it makes him look like a fighter, a counter-puncher.

          Of course he is hiding behind his “campaign” so he can use donor money to pay for all of it too.

          Classic Trump.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. “… since he is just a citizen, not a journalist to whome professional standards might apply.”

    Just a citizen? You and I are just citizens. He is the president, “Article 2” of the Constitution that he swore an oath to uphold, with enormous powers and resources. He is CIC of the entire armed forces. He sign bills into law and vetoes others. Laws that you and I have to follow. He promulgates XO’s that affect the lives of millions. He can enforce to his desire rules and regulation that we all have to abide by. He is the leader of his political party, which in this case includes the senate. The DOJ is under his control.

    Comparing his power and obligations to a code of ethics in journalism is really a stretch.

    I kind of assumed that when you wrote “… journalism is so corrupt that it has become anti-democratic, even anti-American” that that was your complaint…the anti’s.

    Even so, that view is your opinion. I disagree that MSM and its higher quality brethren are either. For that matter, I believe Trump is both. But that is another debate.

    I think that once the cases get to discovery and depositions, it will be the free-for-all that the regime cannot afford to play. And if exec privilege won’t allow the defendants the information needed, its over. Then there might be a case for government abuse and harassment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Just a citizen?”

      Yes, as compared to being both a citizen and a journalist, as stated.

      RE: “Comparing his power and obligations to a code of ethics in journalism is really a stretch.”

      You are the one making that comparison, not I. My point is that journalism is a practice or a profession with objective technical standards of performance. The First Amendment doesn’t apply to journalists who deviate from those standards.

      RE: “I kind of assumed…that that was your complaint…the anti’s.”

      That is the danger of assumptions.


      1. THe President is NOT “just a citizen”. He is considered the FRIST citizen and should be held to a higher standard. He is also a PUBLIC persona, which makes proving these frivolous lawsuits extremely difficult. That is not my opinion. It is the opinion of legal scholars across the country who study these things.

        And all of the lawsuits are being filed against media are OPINION pieces, NOT reporting news.

        More dangerous than assumptions is the idea that the President, through his campaign, can sue a media outlet who publishes an opinion piece based on KNOWN information. This man is not defending the Constitution as he has sworn to do. He is ignoring it for his own personal benefit. Contrary to his belief, ART II does not allow him to do whatever he wants.


      2. “ The First Amendment doesn’t apply to journalists who deviate from those standards.”

        Who says so? Reread the First and you will see nothing of the sort.

        Plenty of opinion pieces have been written by non-journalists, and published in various media. Are you suggesting they have rights that journalists don’t?

        There may be obligations by writers to the trade itself. NYT has fired or disciplined some of their journalists who plagiarized or made up stories n the past and I am sure they will continue to do so. Rolling Stone fired the rape story writer. But all those cases were about articles, not opinions. And lawsuits were filed, legitimately.

        Trump is not just a citizen. I totally disagree with your assumption he is. As president he is restricted by a lot stronger set of guidelines than just ethics. His powers and obligations are carefully spelled out in both the Constitution and through centuries of court decisions. And he swore an oath to abide by the and uphold the Constitution.

        When he posts and says false information, he his deceiving the American citizens. I would call that egregious breaches of not just ethics, but his legal obligation to support and defend our nation. And certainly fair game for both articles fact checking him and opinions that may or may not be favorable or are suppositions and extrapolations, even.

        More importantly, the opinions were about his words and actions as president. Not as Don the citizen.

        A week ago I saw an article that offered a suggestion to the media for handling Trump’s incessant lies, misrepresentations and exaggerations. Rather than take his quote, publish it and then fact check later, publish the facts first, then write what he actually said or did.

        The former plays into the propaganda, the latter puts the onus on Trump to verify.

        Freedom to the press is freedom to the people. That displeases autocrats. That is good.


        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m pretty comfortable with the actual malice standard.

    But with the various open mike and comments made on air from Maddow and others you’re right about MSNBC


    1. Shoot, what about this blog. Not all of my comments about Trump have been singing Hosannas.

      He could sue me, and that would cost me a bundle.

      Or perhaps Obama could sue Trump for lying about the non-existent Obama rule and the FDA. Slander there for sure.

      Once the government can sue for opinions they don’t like, we are screwed. Every political cartoonist that makes Trump look foolish is in danger.

      Hello Putin time.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Opinions are NOT news, regardless of who says them. Hell, if Maddow can be gone after for open mike comments, then Hannity, Carlson, and Ingraham would all be on the hook for things they say that are SCRIPTED. Be careful what you wish for, Doc.


      1. Aw…nuts!

        I read this on a self-imposed union break while roto-tilling the backyard, flipping the compost pile, yada yada, yada.

        bah’ayim lo.

        Liked by 1 person

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