Donald Trump suggested Sunday that he would look to weaken First Amendment protections if he is elected president, in one of his harshest critiques yet of the freedom of the press.
Speaking with CBS Miami on Sunday, the Republican presidential nominee said the US should reduce protections for the press and make it easier to sue media outlets.
“Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and they can get away with it,” Trump said.
“And I think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong — I’m a big believer, tremendous believer in freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me. But if they make terrible, terrible mistakes, and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people … then yes, I think you should have the ability to sue them.”
Trump lamented the US didn’t have a system more like England’s, where tougher laws place the burden of proof on authors and journalists rather than the person suing for libel.
From his comments, it’s not exactly clear what specific changes Trump is looking for. Knowingly publishing false, defamatory information would be reasonable grounds for a libel suit under current law.
However, the sentiment reflects a continued distrust in the media that has become a central theme of Trump’s campaign, particularly in recent weeks. As his poll numbers have plummeted this month, Trump has blasted the media and the political establishment for supposedly “rigging” the election against him.
As early as February, Trump vowed to rewrite US libel laws to make it easier to sue media companies.
“Believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems,” Trump said of the media at a campaign rally during the Republican primaries. “They’re going to have such problems.”
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