Here’s another hole in the leaky ship that is the argument Trump shouldn’t be taken “literally” when he makes threats. Trump has circled back to his campaign promise to make changes to libel laws that would allow him to go after journalists and news organizations which publish things he doesn’t like. He held out for less than three months.
Trump’s rediscovered love of censorship comes on the heels of several straight days of Trump freaking out about the New York Times reporting on his various scandals. And it’s probably no coincidence that Trump is reconsidering press freedom right as his approval rating hits historic lows (the worst since Nixon was impeached and a record low for any president at this stage in office).
In a culmination of Trump’s rant against the New York Times, he called for a change in libel laws and used an article written by the New York Post — a right-leaning daily owned by Rupert Murdoch — to pretend his troubles are due to the “liberal media” and not his own incompetence.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017
The article shows how thoroughly unserious it is just three sentences in when it repeats the lie that the New York Times “apologized” to readers for being so biased against Trump. The paper did no such thing. The only other person who routinely suggests that it did is none other than Trump himself. The relationship between the New York Post and Donald Trump is an orange-painted echo chamber.
Trump’s belief that he can pass libel laws to restrict what the press says about him is terrifying, but not original. He made similar remarks during the campaign. Here’s Trump channeling a dictator in February 2016:
“One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So 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 instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”
As the old adage goes, he told us who he was, we should have believed him.
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images