President Donald Trump took to twitter where he launched yet another of his hallmark Twitter attacks on the New York Times. In this attack, he called for an expansion of libel law once again, a position he has already been criticized for while on the campaign trail.
In defense of the President, the New York Times has shown little objectivity in their coverage of him, even going so far as to admit their bias after Hillary Clinton’s astounding loss in last November’s election. Yet, this does not change the fact that his call for increases in libel law, to further protect public government figures, is as much of a blow to the institution of free speech as the New York’s Times bias has been detrimental to the support for a free and independent press.
In his tweet, Trump linked to a New York Post article that conveyed the anger many American’s have felt towards the partisan spin media outlets have placed within and on their coverage of the political arena; a spin that has been especially exasperated since the arrival of Trump on the stage of presidential politics. As previously stated this is a fair criticism, but the solution for this problem, as with so many others, does not lie in increasing government power.
Libel laws are severely restricted in the United States, and even more so for figures who knowingly and willingly accept the megaphone of a public platform – something which certainly comes with harsh, and sometimes unsubstantiated, criticism. However, this is simply a burden we must bear in a free society. Sometimes this freedom will be abused, but, as another – more refined – president than Mr. Trump, Thomas Jefferson, once wrote:
“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”
This would be good advice for President Trump, after all, he should remember that loose libel law is what likely propelled him to the presidency. His political breakthrough, in 2011, came on the heels of what were highly unsubstantiated claims about President Obama’s place of birth, claims that many thought should be subject to libel law themselves.
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