WASHINGTON (AP) -
President Donald Trump is reviving his attacks on news he doesn’t like,
threatening to target libel laws that govern freedom of the press.
“The failing @nytimes
has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change
libel laws?” he wrote on Twitter Thursday, taking yet another shot at a
paper that has broken numerous stories on his fledgling administration.
Libel law in the
U.S. generally makes it difficult for public figures to sue reporters and
others who criticize them. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that a
plaintiff must demonstrate that statements were factually inaccurate as well
as made with “actual malice” or a “reckless disregard” for the truth.
Gregg Leslie, the
legal defense director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press,
said libel protections are based on the First Amendment and how it has been
interpreted by the courts, and Trump can do little to change that.
“As far as the
principle, we’re never pleased to see a government official say that the
messenger is the problem,” he said.
campaign, Trump repeatedly threatened to weaken constitutional protections
for the press to make it easier for him to sue them.
At a Texas rally
last year, he said he wanted to “open up” U.S. libel laws “so when they
write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them
and win lots of money.”
“Believe me: If I
become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re going to have such
problems,” he said then.