Is Freedom Of Speech In Danger?

April 30, 2017

COMMENT/OPINION

Since President Trump has started working in the White House, and even before, numerous left and right wing news articles, with opposing views have repeatedly reported on that “Russian Connection,” then it was the “wiretapping” claim that Trump made. It never goes away apparently.

If your in the public eye, or somebody important, you are news, whether good or bad, fully factual or not. That is called Freedom of the Press. How often does the press receive 100% factual news? Are they always able to get it right all the time? The answer is no they don’t always have 100% of the facts all the time.

We have a President who has, at times been very unfairly reported on, sometimes being repeatedly carpet bombed, from the left wing propaganda machine news. We have referred to them as fake news, in return they refer to the right wing as fake news. It’s getting difficult to tell what is fake news and not fake. But, the decision making process should be left up to the recipient of that news, and at times it can hurt someone’s credibility, or character.

White House Chief of Staff, Reince Preibus told ABC News This Week, they have been looking into changing the libel law. Does this mean they are looking to sue? Probably. 

On February 25, 2017 according to pbs.org, Trump made this statement on Fox News, “I love free press, I think it’s great,” before adding “We ought to open up the libel laws, and I’m going to do that.”

We all know for a fact he has sued many companies and people in the past. Whether he was right or wrong in doing so, doesn’t matter, it is still his constitutional right to do so. At a rally in Fort Worth Texas, it was reported he stated “when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” 

Libel law as it stands now makes it very difficult to sue reporters or people who criticize you. In order to win a libel case you must be able to prove that factually incorrect statements that were made were done with malice or reckless disregard for the truth

President Trump has said that in order to change these libel laws to make it easier to go after the press, it would only be necessary for an act of congress. Others have argued, no, it would take a constitutional amendment. 

This is what Emily Doskow, Attorney at nolo.com has to say about public figures and celebrities who sue for “defamation,” another name for “libel:”

“Public officials and figures have a harder time proving defamation”
“The public has a right to criticize the people who govern them, so the least protection from defamation is given to public officials. When officials are accused of something that involves their behavior in office, they have to prove all of the above elements of defamation and they must also prove that the defendant acted with “actual malice.” 

“People who aren’t elected but who are still public figures because they are influential or famous — like movie stars — also have to prove that defamatory statements were made with actual malice, in most cases.”

Then there is a whole different ball game when it is “internet libel.” With laws under Internet libel, if there is proved defamation, it’s a felony in some states. In Colorado a man found guilty of libel received 23 years in prison. 

There are 17 states that consider internet libel a criminal offense according to dba-oracle.com:

“(Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, along with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands)”

President Trump has been quoted by foxnews.com as saying, “You don’t have to do a constitutional amendment. You need an act of Congress. I’m telling you — you need an act of Congress,” he said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News last year.

Whether President Trump is right or wrong when it comes to asking Congress to make changes in the “Freedom of the Press.” All I know is that under Amendment 1 of the Constitution, it says, “Congress shall make no law….abridging the freedom of speech or the press.” 

I personally don’t think he will be able to make it easier to sue. It would take a constitutional amendment in my opinion. States have to follow libel laws/defamation laws in their sates. They are ruled on concerning individual cases, not all cases are the same. 

Anyone should be able to make an opinion on any politician. That is your Constitutional right.

I wrote my Congressman about clarification of the “wiretapping issue,” where our President claimed that Obama had him wiretapped. The news carried articles for months on this. The left reported their way, the right news sources were completely different in their reporting. I wanted to know exactly where Congress stood on the wiretapping issue. My Congressman did write me back, saying that Jeff Sessions wanted everyone to know that Trump was not wiretapped. That left me scratching my head in bewilderment. I guess we all need to draw our own conclusions. Congress can’t make us believe something we feel is contradictory.

Hang in there America, we have always had freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it’s not going to change now, I don’t care what the left or right says. WE HAVE A CONSTITUTION and a DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE! Our founders were very smart in making Americans free, as some of them didn’t have this absolute freedom where they came from: (Why They Did It)

DON’T MESS AROUND WITH OUR CONSTITUTION!!!!

Sources:
http://www.dba-oracle.com/oracle_news/news_states_criminal_libel_web_internet.htm
http://www.heritage.org/constitution/amendments/1/essays/140/freedom-of-speech-and-of-the-press
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/02/27/trump-wants-to-weaken-libel-laws-amid-feuds-with-reporters.html


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