Saturday, 26 May, 2018


Trump Calls for 'Strong Look' at Libel Laws After Critical Book

Steve Bannon Trump Calls for 'Strong Look' at Libel Laws After Critical Book
Bennie Garza | 13 January, 2018, 05:02

"We want fairness. Can't say things that are false; knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account".

"There are no federal libel laws, so it will be hard for Trump to "open them up, ' as he called for during the campaign", said Alexandra Ellerbeck, the North America Program Coordinator for Committee to Protect Journalists". "What the American people want to see is fairness".

That means Trump would need to persuade Congress to pass a far-reaching federal law if he wanted to change the status quo - or convince state legislatures to tighten their existing statutes.

The president's new focus on libel comes less than a week after the release of 'Fire and Fury, ' a book by columnist Michael Wolff that the president has called a 'fake book, written by a totally discredited author'.

Trump first raised the idea of libel law reform during a February 2016 campaign rally in Fort Worth, Texas, warning the Times and The Washington Post that 'we're going to open up those libel laws, folks, and we're going to have people sue you like you never got sued before'.

Trump said the laws should be changed so that "when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts".

Steve Bannon and Donald Trump

Trump, of course, has a long history of threatening legal action, and specifically against media outlets, and then failing to follow through.

But unless you work in journalism, Hollywood or politics, it is unlikely you will ever have to learn much about defamation law, a patchwork of state laws that govern the crime of publishing deliberately false statements about someone with the intent of damaging that person.

"I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un", Trump told the Journal. There are now no federal libel laws in the USA that Congress could re-examine, as the criteria for libel is typically left to each state to decide. Nor did he identify what, exactly, the administration will be "taking a very very strong look at". Every U.S. state has a libel law.

In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that news publications could not be sued for libel by public figures unless there was grounds for false reporting. He added that "the media will ultimately support Trump in the end, because they're going to say, if Trump doesn't win in three years, they're all out of business".

For now, Roth said, Trump's threat to change libel laws is just "another silly declaration" from the White House.

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