Monday CNN’s “Legal View” with Ashleigh Banfield took a look at Donald Trump’s ongoing war with the media, and Banfield brought on renowned First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who didn’t hold back from chastising Donald Trump for his apparent misunderstanding of our First Amendment. (In the interest of full disclosure, Abrams is the father of LawNewz founder Dan Abrams.)
Trump, who had already been hostile to the media, even banning Washington Post-credentialed reporters from his campaign events, became especially fixated on his issues with the press over the weekend. For example, he tweeted this:
It is not "freedom of the press" when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2016
Abrams made a point of bringing up the kind of trouble Trump would be in without the First Amendment, telling Banfield that “He should be especially, especially protective of the First Amendment. He could be in jail in Europe for some of the things he’s said about Muslims. Where they ban hate speech, and put politicians in jail ,or fine them, for some of the things he has said.”
While Trump makes a habit of talking about how he wants to “tighten up” defamation laws so that media who make things up can be sued. He seems to forget that’s actually already the law. While public figures do require a higher standard for defamation lawsuits than private citizens, that standard is, effectively, what Trump says he wants: False statements about a public figure are defamation when there’s proof of “actual malice,” or knowing that the story isn’t true.