Libel Laws and Trump's Fight Against Fake News
He suggests that libel laws need to be strengthened because of fake news from a new book.
In remarks that created quite a stir, President Donald Trump lamented the nation’s lack of strong libel laws as he once again leveled criticism against writer Michael Wolff over his book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Trump said, “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.” He continued, “Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values and American fairness. We’re going to take a very, very strong look at that.”
Trump has taken a slightly different tack with this latest slamming of negative press, seemingly dropping the gauntlet with his call for review of the nation’s libel laws. It’s big talk, but it’s more bluster than business. First of all, Americans rightly enjoy the free speech protections of the First Amendment, the press included. Second, the law has set the bar high for any one to be found guilty of libel against a public official, and the mere spreading of false information certainly does not meet that standard. Third, Trump has no power to change laws, either federal or state. Finally, it’s a good bet that Trump already knows all this. So what is he aiming at?
Since day one, Trump has been in a battle with the mainstream media. He has regularly called them out for promulgating fake news, while the MSM itself has often accused fake news of having helped Trump win the election. With regularity, Trump has trolled the MSM, and in so doing has helped to expose more of its leftist bias. So it follows that this is merely another salvo in his ongoing war with the MSM. By threatening to send the law after Wolff, Trump is effectively blowing an MSM dog whistle, to which they will respond by jumping to Wolff’s defense. That leaves the MSM caught defending an author widely recognized for his own propensity to engage in stretching the truth. In other words, the MSM has been set up to once again be pilloried by Trump for their defense of fake news. Meanwhile, he has gone a long way in discrediting the book in the eyes of many Americans.