At a Texas rally meant to celebrate his recent endorsement by one-time opponent Chris Christie, Donald Trump said the 1st Amendment doesn’t extend to journalists who write “purposely negative” articles about him. His plan, one of the view policy positions he’s actually laid out, would be to “open up” more libel laws and then sue the newspapers into oblivion.
To a crowd of supporters, Trump laid out his vision for what free speech would look like in Trump’s America: It boiled down to, be good to me or I’ll destroy you.
“I’m gonna open up our libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible, false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.
We’re going to open up those libels laws. So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace, or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money.”
He closed with promising his fans that he’ll “sue” critics like they’ve “never got sued before.”
How did Trump’s supporters respond to this terrifying, fascist vision for the future? They went crazy. A cheer went up in the crowd that nearly drowned out Trump’s comments.
Trump says he wants to “open up our libel laws” so he can sue news outlets and “win lots of money.” pic.twitter.com/AeWfSvPfi5
— PolicyMic (@PolicyMic) February 26, 2016
Trump’s attack on the media representS a bold new step in Trump’s march towards a literal Nazi political platform. America has long enjoyed a (relatively) free press and, whether politicians like it or not, the openness has helped keep America free from the kind of totalitarian governments seen in places like North Korea and China. It doesn’t mean that the press is always fair. Notably, Barack Obama has faced a constant barrage of right-wing hit pieces directed at his character, his family, and his legacy. However, as bad as it gets, Americans have always recognized that restricting the voice of the media is a line that shouldn’t be crossed – until now.
Trump, who views any criticism of his ideas or rhetoric as an insult, has a massive ego and paper thin skin. How would he define “negative” and “false” articles? Where would he stop? On what basis would he sue the New York Times or the Washington Post or even liberal blogs which don’t agree to go quietly along with his message of bigotry, racism, and war-mongering? The answers to those questions are almost too terrifying to imagine.
Featured image via Hollywood Reporter screengrab