TIME WARNER CEO: The ‘real threat’ to the First Amendment came from Democrats, not Trump

Jeff Bewkes.
Jeff Bewkes. Screenshot/Business Insider

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget on Tuesday that the “real threat” to the First Amendment did not come from President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, but rather from the Democratic Party.

Bewkes’ remarks came during Business Insider’s annual IGNITION conference, during which he was asked about Trump’s frequent campaign threats to open up libel laws.

Trump has also set his sights on Bewkes own media property, CNN, which he consistently ridiculed along the campaign trail and has continued to do even after Election Day.

“Do you worry about that at all?” Blodget asked.

Bewkes said he didn’t “think that’s a serious thing,” adding that “we should all worry” if someone were seeking to change the First Amendment. He suggested that came from the Democratic Party, which “had a campaign plank to change the First Amendment, and they were doing it in the guise of campaign finance reform.”

“And that was worrying me more,” Bewkes continued. “Because the press tends to miss that because they tend to lean that way and therefore they were supporting what they were viewing, I think overly charitably, as something in cleaning up money in politics when in fact what it would do is restrain multiple voices.”

Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, vowed to engage in campaign finance reform following the election, a cause that has been bolstered in recent years by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The 2010 ruling deemed corporations and labour unions as people who could flex First Amendment rights in contributing to campaigns, and led to the advent of so-called Super PACs.

“So I thought the real threat to the First Amendment came from the Democrats’ side more,” Bewkes said. “There’s not going to be a serious effort on the Republican side.”

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