Trump vs. the media

If he becomes president, he’s vowed to loosen libel laws—where will he stop?

As the CN&R learned first-hand this past week, Donald Trump despises the media. At least once during his speech in Redding, he called journalists “sleazy,” and he tossed around the term “dishonest” in reference to the media half a dozen times. The reporters his camp granted press passes to were required to remain in a fenced-in area with no water, shade or toilets in 104 degree heat.

His distaste for the media that day was palpable.

But we’re used to that, to a degree. We wouldn’t be good journalists if everyone loved us. It only takes a short time in this business to develop thick skin. That’s especially important when it comes to politics. And it’s a lesson Trump needs to learn. After all, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—we’ll repeat that, the First Amendment—grants us freedom of the press for the very purpose of keeping our government and politicians in check.

But Trump doesn’t like being questioned. He lashes out when reporters fact-check his falsehoods and question his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-woman rhetoric. (There are probably a few antis in there that we left out. Fill in the blank.) Trump is convinced that the media are out to get him and that they print malicious lies about him, telling only one side of the story. In February, he even threatened to “open up the libel laws” to make it easier to sue journalists and news outlets.

Of course, should Trump become president, it won’t be as easy as putting pen to paper to loosen libel laws. But his determination to do so, to silence the press whose job it is to keep him and the rest of our government honest, is very scary indeed. And it makes us wonder what other freedoms he might be willing to cast aside because they don’t serve him.