From John Adams and the Alien Sedition Act, Lincoln’s rage and FDR’s giggling sidekicks, from JFK’s light warnings to Trump and the press as the people’s enemy, we look at the relationship between President and the Press. Plus we are joined by Chris Novembrino of the Don’t Worry About the Government and All in the Family Podcast to discuss recent effects, where the press stands today, and why actions of the 18th century may still be alive in today’s politics.
Benny as Benjamin Franklin Bache was called, like any grandson, admired his grandfather. But when your grandfather is the famous founder and your namesake there’s a certain extra bit of admiration that would propel him to get into his grandfather’s old stomping grounds of printing.
He met grandpa when he was just five. Just as the independence movement was heading the colonies he was too young to walk the streets. Then with Thomas Young James Cannon or any of those Philadelphia radicals that we talked about in a previous episode. But he’d soon get the same taste for liberty. He accompanied the elder Franklin to France and was schooled at his grandfather’s insistence in Geneva in the Republican country of Switzerland. I would not take long 21 years for him to start a newspaper. The General Advertiser and political commercial agricultural and literary journal. Pretty soon got tired of book reviews and crop reports and advertisers selling this and wanting that and he began to focus on the political and sharpen his views. He renamed to paper the Aurora as his grandfather passed and he inheriting the print equipment he set his sights on the developments in the country he hated when Alexander Hamilton was setting up the industry the banks he disliked the pretentious look of the American government and unlike others he did not hold back from criticizing even the hero of the American Revolution.
George Washington. Why should we celebrate his birthday. The paper asked Why should people kneel before him as they seemed to do on his trip down south. The parade the well-dressed carriage. It favors too much of the monarchy. Bosh thought he stated the obvious that few would the defender of liberty kept his slaves in chains. And though he was told not to do it Benjamin Franklin bodge published the full text of the Jay Treaty with Britain as the Senate was considering it. The treaty with America’s former king was not popular in the nation yet being feisty being political being controversial was good for his media business. Nearly 2000 subscribers and a lot more copies passed around through Philadelphia’s streets and nearby towns three times what any of the other papers had and a sometimes reader was President Washington himself. He was not happy Vashi said was a tool of those willing to destroy the democratic nation. I have suffered every attack that was made upon my executive conduct to pass unnoticed while I remained in office. Washington writes to William Gordon was it because of the virtues of a free press. Well not exactly to Gordon he confesses his live let live strategy was more because the charges made in the paper would not stand up to the test of investigation.
Fake News. 18th century style and only said in private.
But a similar argument. The worst was when Bosch published forged letters that had already been published during the revolution by a New York newspaper. In other words just kind of retweeting false information using the same previous source for credibility. It was published somewhere right. These letters showed Washington had all cheerier motives for taking the general ship to enrich himself or seize power.
Gordon is writing Washington helpfully saying to the former president and former general.
If you have more letters you know publish them all get the whole story out of Washington and the letter is informing Gordon that these letters are spurious and rather than respond he just put a note in the record as he left office.
He sent a short memorandum to the secretary of state bash attacks him constantly during the presidency that he’s taking more money that he’s supposed to there’s lots of hints and allegations about the entire Washington administration even as Washington writes his farewell address.
Bosh’s response to this popular address in all the other papers he says and must be remembered that it is the profession of republicanism and the practice of monarchy that is the mode of this administration.
Indeed the administration held the constitution in such low regard that it had reduced it to a nose of wax neither of them knew it but they were beginning a long and storied history of turbulence between presidents and the press.
One that now instead of private letters comes out in public tweets the press the enemy of the people that phrasing is a little unique but the feeling is George W. Bush muttering an expletive about a reporter Lincoln fuming and quoting the Bible in vain.
There’s been a lot of history a presidential hating on the press and some vice versa lots of why print this don’t print that. Stop attacking me. Print the good news for once. Lots of presumption that the president is the nation when you attack me you attack the republic some intimidation some threats even a friendliness that could be just as sinister.
SEDITION AND THE ADAMS PRESIDENCY
And Bache doesn’t close down his press when Adams takes over the presidency but he does have higher hopes. Adams is an aristocrat. Bush says only in theory but Washington was one in practice. Adams would not be a puppet. He likes that when Adams becomes president it calls Congress together consults with Congress instead of being buried and hidden in his cabinet. That honeymoon would not last long. France now a republic under the directory government doesn’t like our neutrality treating with Britain he start messing with American shipping seizing American ships that are on the high seas and those that are in French ports. Dozens of ships are dealt with in this fashion. Americans are outraged. Cities Baltimore Newburyport Massachusetts Philadelphia they raise monies to outfit privateers to attack French warships. The U.S. Navy is given three new ships. The Constellation the Constitution and the United States the constellation takes on a French ship and destroys it outside the New Jersey coast. Marines seize a city and stump the candidates. Now the Dominican Republic in one of the few land raids in what will be called the quasi war with France. It is mentally a real war in terms of the politics within the early United States. And there are political consequences when American diplomats are thrown out. Told that they had to pay to talk to the new government by Foreign Minister Tolley ran the entire countries insulted. This catches the Republicans the Jeffersonians Jefferson is now V.P but it’s not exactly he’s performing the duties the office but not cooperating with John Adams. This throws them off guard a bit. They had had all the popular support of the Federalists with those elitists. Now the issue has turned they demand to see proof. And when the report is sent and publicized because it’s a diplomatic document we don’t want to insult another country.
The French names the names of the diplomats on the French side are blacked out and just referred to as X Y and Z.
This document published in papers becomes the X Y Z affair and fuels more outrage.
Washington has asked to head the Army’s again a shot across the bow to France. We have the aforementioned cities and towns across the US developing fleets that are having some success taking on French warships John Adams wears a uniform and carries a sword.
He’s popular for the first and perhaps the only time in his presidency but Benjamin Franklin Bosh and his Aurore paper are not happy. Adams has thrown the mask aside. He says he ignored the depraved British actions against our merchants and capturing our sailors but condemns the French his attacks on anime’s now are so strong that Abigail Adams says if that fellow and all of his agents are not suppressed we will come to civil war.
She wouldn’t have to wait long. Adams is one president who gets a great midterm in his first year. Even if that midterm was one that was stretched between 1798 and 1799 between all those different states had their midterm elections still swept up by war fever with towns sending congratulatory notes in support of President Adams and with the injury suffered by seaport residents up and down the coast. The House is now filled with more federalists the war men are in power. Thomas Jefferson regrets
And as they began to use their new majority they targeted two offending groups. Immigrants particularly French immigrants. And the press. And among many other things that the Alien Sedition Act says is Section 2 that if any person shall write print utter or publish or shall cause or procure to be written printed uttered or published or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing printing uttering or publishing any false scandalous and malicious writing or writing is against the government of the United States or either house of the Congress of the United States or the president of the United States with the intent to defame said government. Or either. Of the houses of said Congress or the said President or bring them or either of them into contempt or disrepute. Or to excite against them or either or any of them the hatred of the good people of the United States Horter excite any unlawful combinations they are in for opposing or resisting any law of the United States. Shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars and by imprisonment. Not exceeding two years
John Tamms is somewhat concerned about it but he signs the law for Abigale. It was a fine moment. Let the viper’s cease tickets she says.
One of those vipers she surely had in mind was Matthew Alliant congressman from Vermont.
He had published letters that said Adams was grasping for power.
Every consideration for public welfare had been swallowed up in this quest for power in an unbridled thirst for pomp and selfish avarice.
About a president. U.S. Attorney Charles Marsh indicts lion. In lion goes to trial
He was not reserved in any matters. No one would say that about this Congressman and he certainly was not here at his trial. The law he argued is unconstitutional and the judge. Petersen instructed the jury that constitutional matters were not in the purview of the court to decide simply did the lion write this and was it seditious well Lyon argues in court. It wasn’t a lie. For instance he asks the judge himself the part about the pomp and we’ll have it you observed pomp at the White House after all judge you have dined there. No. The judge said he did not observe any certainly it displays more servants and pomp than a Vermont tavern no answer.
And when the jury on the narrow instructions given by the judge convicts Lyon the judge now wants to set an example for others not to be seditious. A thousand dollar fine and four months in prison.
Why would serve that time. In fact he’d run for re-election from prison in a campaign against the federal justice system and he’d win.
But as soon as he was let out he was indicted again for treason. Based on that campaign this time when the marshals came to Vermont he was not to be found.
Fled to Kentucky where he ran for Congress again and now a free speech hero was elected from there.
Another Philadelphia editor Thomas Cooper got six months and four hundred dollars for attacking Adams.
Well one of the more famous victims of this Alien and Sedition Act a recent Scottish immigrant named James Callander who wrote in the Richmond Examiner and was supported financially by Jefferson and Jefferson supporters. He was arrested after he wrote a seditious column. The U.S. attorney for Virginia had been instructed by the secretary of state in the Adams administration Pickering to scan the Examiner. For any seditious writings.
Calendar’s trial was a farce. Judge Samuel Chase interrupted his defense lawyers said they didn’t know what they were arguing they didn’t know what they were doing before this court. He made arguments for the prosecution that the prosecution didn’t even make. In the end Callendar got 9 months. And also four hundred dollars fine. The lawsuit. Was temporary. And thus the Alien and Sedition Act was never fully ruled unconstitutional. Something we’re going to discuss later.
It expires in 1901 and calendar’s released where he would go on to attack Jefferson leading Jefferson to at least consider maybe a sedition law here or there perhaps on a state level.
But not at this time Jefferson is V.P. when the sedition law is passed. He does not directly interfere he cannot directly interfere as vice president or feels he cannot. He does not speak as vice president or feels he cannot but gets with Madison and together they craft two resolutions one for Virginia and one for Kentucky The Virginian Kentucky resolutions seek to null the federal law to make it null and void. Abigail Adams decries them as mad resolutions.
But although constitutionally they don’t really hold water a state cannot simply nullify federal law there’s no provision for that. They do stand as a pretty good defense of free speech if the acts specified should stand. These conclusions would flow from them that the general Gever may place any act they think proper on the list of crimes and punish it themselves whether enumerated or not enumerated by the Constitution
That they may transfer its cognizance to the president or any other person whom he himself may be the accuser.
Council judge and jury whose suspicions may be the evidence his order the sentence his officer the executioner and his breast the soul record of the transaction. Again we do look at those Kentucky and Virginia resolutions as a
Failure on a constitutional level or attempt to do something that you can’t do and that’s valid.
But they also are pretty good defense of free speech in a time of madness. For Benjamin Franklin bosh. There would be no trial. Nor release. He was indicted. But he was caught up in a deadly yellow fever epidemic in 1798 and died at age 30.
SEDITION AND THE CIVIL WAR
In 1861 the eyesore of Lincoln and the union government the federal government the Republican administration in Washington D.C. the site that made them cringe
Was the Confederate flags flying not in some distant place but in Alexandria Virginia right cross the river from the Capitol and on May 24th 1861.
They took them down.
A dashing military man from a Zouave unit. These are the brightly dressed in the French style units that you saw at the beginning of the civil war before they realized that wearing bright colors in battle isn’t exactly a good thing. But one of these Zyuganov’s a friend of Abraham Lincoln indeed major Elmer Ephram Ellsworth was determined to remove that flag particularly from one of the city’s hotels. He did and carried it gleefully only to face the shotgun of the innkeeper who is not pleased with the removal and Baloo major Elsworth away in doing so that innkeeper created a martyr. ELSWORTH was the first union officer killed
Union troops declared martial law in the city.
But it’s no good to declare martial law if you can’t tell anyone that you have. So they went to the Alexandria Gazette and ordered the publisher there to print the statement about martial law in the city. The publisher Edgar Snowden Yeah I know. Funny last name Edgar Snowden said no. And. In fact. Were closed right now presses closed shut it down major Colonel or Wilcox you know again thinking about their phyllo Major who had just been killed. Set a standard for press relations ransacking the office and smashing the printing press to bits later. When a different newspaper The Local News published an offensive editorial. The Union troops would set it ablaze.
This was not totally uncommon. Ulysses S. Grant as a general ordered the shutdown of the offending Brownsville Press newspaper and threatened other papers that came to its defense and dress down the editor of The St. Louis Daily Evening News for saying that Missouri was under a reign of terror. The Louisville Courier is viewed as a secession press by Northern Editor and war supporter Horace Greeley. He’s constantly condemning a union supporter in Louisville sends the editorials from the paper to the Secretary of State Seward and asks if the editor should not be in prison.
The people he said can’t send their sons to fight the rebels. While this editor is allowed to furnish and comfort the enemy.
The U.S. Postal Service promptly banned the courier from the mails then federal authorities raided the newspaper’s office and they charged editor Duret with treason. Now friends of dividing Kentucky try to convince Lincoln to let them out of jail. But after hearing from other friendly Kentuckians Lincoln refused to intervene. President Lincoln said that he didn’t have time to follow the newspapers the way like his supporters did but he did peruse them.
Here’s what Harold Holzer says in his book Lincoln and the power of the press or the White House said one Sunday. Lincoln took the newspapers from his drawer and read them to the very last word. When he was finished. His face flushed up with indignation. Any hurled the pile of papers to the floor his anger focused on Henry Ward Beecher. Of the new york independent. Is thy servant a dog
That he should do this thing.
Then a second however Lincoln’s dark mood disappeared.
He did work the press to Lawrence right running the Associated Press telegraph found him courteous but distrustful he would slow narrate according to Bright and was wary of leaks. One of the secretaries Nicholas hay would serve as press liaison giving reporters some access and maybe even an insider’s story or two about what was going on in the White House. But he also discouraged negative stories. Nothing there nothing here nothing there.
And Lincoln employed another tactic he outright bought good coverage in the run up to his campaign for president.
He had invested in the German language newspaper of Heinrich Theodore Kansas. It was an important Oregon and in Springfield in Illinois and in the Iowa and Indiana German communities
In 1859. Through his banker Lincoln bought Kinesis his printing equipment out of hock.
He had gone into a bit of debt and got him publishing again warned by others that Candace’s might be a Welsh. He signed an agreement with him that he must publish a newspaper
Ok but to make it more helpful. Lincoln instituted a drop dead clause should there be a departure from Republican brand. Should he publish anything designed to injure the Republican Party. Lincoln would take the press away from him. Wasn’t buying coverage. Well. Yes. In the same way that Jefferson Jackson as well did some of Jackson had his own newspaper that would print essentially the government’s view of things.
The administration’s view of things Jefferson we know funded calendar and a few others just as Hamilton was doing.
He also got jobs for newspaperman Noah Brooks of The Sacramento Daily Union was so pro Lincoln in the White House. Admired his article so much that he was given a job as clerk of the house and it’s possible he dangled an ambassadorship to France to secure the usual critic James Bennett of the New York Herald. Not a Lincoln fan. To calm him down a bit if he did this and there’s some dispute. There are few letters going back there’s no direct no smoking gun so to speak. But if Lincoln did this he didn’t get a praising editorial but merely on the choice of Lincoln or McClellan in 1864 Bennett said it was a choice of evils rather than excellences.
Still given how badly Benton had pummeled the Lincoln administration this was kind of like an endorsement the ambassador position was never given and Lincoln’s actions were not alone.
As we wrap friends Jefferson Jackson involved in that when a Johnson owned TV station in Austin Texas and held a merger up once until a newspaper publisher decided to give him more favorable coverage.
But newspapers in modern times were not the most vulnerable targets. TV networks had a lot more to lose because for TV networks were talking about their getting a license from the FCC and the Nixon administration had no qualms about threatening where licenses would go for various network of affiliates.
It’s possible that his intimidation of CBS may have led the network to stop analyzing the president’s speeches directly was his Republican predecessor better.
OTHER PRESIDENTS AND THE PRESS
Ostensibly Theodore Roosevelt was a reporter’s dream. As New York police commissioner and US civil rights commissioner he loved reporters. He gained a lot from them and he was great news.
I mean waking up sleeping cops enforcing the law is holding politicians to the laws he made. And both of those jobs. Now as president
When he saw reporters in the rain waiting in the White House he set up a place for them within the White House. And it’s that letting the journalists in the building that continues as a tradition today. But there is a dark side to the rough rider sure. He told reporters David Berry of the New York Sun and Ed Keane of scripts that. They would get access to good information as long as they observed a couple of rules they could never quote. That. Material came from him
And of course they would be accurate and fair about what they reported. Those are the rules. And if he did not. If a reporter did not follow those rules he would not only stop talking to that reporter.
He would rebuke reporters joke that it was the the nanny S Club after a biblical reference after the fellow who held back a gift that was intended for the church first cousin Franklin Roosevelt. They called it the giggle club although it wasn’t all Cagle’s. It was just that Roosevelt created a cadre of reporters through his own personal charm but also a kind of self enforcement among them that the reporters would ask good questions generally good coverage and not confronting the president of course. Just as with TR no one would source the president reporters describing it at the time talk about how more of a self force and I have a reporter got out of line they’d be talked to by their own members of the press like why are you giving FDR such a hard time and not so much directly from the president. But occasionally he would rebuke reporters. There was a mechanism enforcement doing things like this ridiculing reporters and might get out of line. Now a similar thing with Lyndon Johnson. You know David Halberstam and his great book The Powers That Be talks about how reporters going to Vietnam let’s say from Washington to go report on Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson would insist on meeting with those reporters don’t be like those boys Halberstam and Sheehan he will warn their traitors to our country. Here’s how Howard talks about the Vietnam era in the White House was committing not just men and resources to Vietnam but its credibility as well.
It was putting its word against a handful of reporters in Saigon in the beginning it looked like an absurd mismatch. For more than 20 years before Americans had trusted the word of their president the president knew he had all the information. It was a bit like Watergate in the beginning everyone believed the president. The polls reflected that there were ruský and McNamara and Bundy on television explaining how well the war was going who can make the case against these reporters were young and unheard of. Their sources were deep in the bowels of the American operation in Vietnam who gave information usually very good information only in exchange for anonymity.
DAN RATHER AND LBJ
You see in the Story about a reporter at this time the young reporter Dan Rather who being from Texas and having earned his fame being a person in Dallas covering the desk when President Kennedy was shot. Is brought to Washington. Here’s our Robertson talks about Dan Rather. Rather in those days was the most junior of the network correspondents and his CBS colleagues remember that the edges were still rough. The blue suit a little shiny. The country still showed. Curiously. Being the outsider the graduate a back country school instead of Harvard. Some of the advantages of Eastern sophistication that haunted Lyndon Johnson bothered rather too because he lacked them
A sense that easterners had more and knew more than he did.
But in this case instead of poisoning him it seemed to give him an added edge. But Johnson from the first Ms Read him thought he could have a slice of them and greeted rather accordingly. Lyndon Johnson was glad to see Dan Rather Lyndon Johnson knew he could count on Dande. He was not like those Eastern boys who didn’t understand a Texan. You understand me and you’re gonna help me rather winced at that. Oh God I’m really in for now he thought.
It never worked well not from the start. His position was difficult. Great newspapers do not like their white house reporters to be in an adversarial position with the White House networks being more timid and more accountable to the government. Like it even less. So his problems were potentially dual difficulties with the president could easily become difficulties with his superiors. He was thus more vulnerable than the average white house correspondent.
The first attempt Branning took place very early at the first White House press conference rather covered Lyndon Johnson simply refused to see him or acknowledge his question for a print reporter. This might mean very little but for a network generalist. It is absolutely shattering. All his bosses were watching a lot of institutional manhood was riding on it and it was imperative rather to show that he had the clout to do his job. So while his CBS boss bosses gathered around the tube in New York Dan Rather again and again kept jumping out of his seat as if there was a spike in it trying to get to the attention of the president. But to no avail. Johnson recognized his main competition Nancy Dickerson and even worse by name. Yes Nancy and he decided he could not let this happen again. He sought out Jack Valenti consider friendly to reporters. He laid it out for Valenti. He thought this was deliberate and if it was then he Dan Rather was going to kickback. No one was going to ignore him but plenty was very soothing. Rather you’re wrong. Johnson’s not against you. Johnson likes you. He thinks a lot of you. You remind him of young friends who you known in Texas. The problem was the president’s eyesight. He had a terrible problem with his eyes and cannot see ten feet without his glasses. He was looking for rather but had been unable to see him. Now these other reporters he knew them because of their outlines their shapes were familiar. So rather knew that Lyndon Johnson was putting a mark on him teaching him a lesson before the assembled multitude of CBS executives and rather found that at the next press conference he was quickly recognized even though he was seated much farther back
The president’s eyesight he noticed had greatly improved.
NIXON AND THE PRESS
Tape of Nixon played
ZEGLIER: I guess I just don’t think it was a misunderstanding talked to the Washington Post and there was no reporter today at the ceremony. There was a photographer there but apparently they screwed up on their desk assignment. There was no reporter present
NIXON: I want it to be understood that from now on. However reporter from The Washington Post ever to be in the White House.
Now in terms of some intimidation of reporters in the Nixon administration engaged in such activity as well
Daniel Schorr is probably the more famous case. This from 1973 Atlantic Monthly article. As sure recalls the sequence of events that began on Tuesday August 17th 1973 when Nixon in a speech to the Knights of Columbus promised that you can count on my support to help parochial schools. The producer of The CBS Evening News the Walter Cronkite show called Shore and asked for a follow up story. Schorr went to see the source a Catholic priest active in the field of education who told him the administration was doing nothing to aid Catholic schools. On Wednesday night CBS ran a film clip of Nixon’s speech promising to aid parochial schools then cut to shore saying there was absolutely nothing in the works to help the schools. Shore was summoned to the White House and met with Pat Buchanan. Terry Bell the commissioner deputy commissioner for education Henry Cashen and assistant to the press secretary. They began reading figures off very rapidly. He suggested to shore that they put their main points down on paper and then sure would try to get it on the air on the same day the chore was summoned to the White House. A member of the White House staff requested the FBI investigate. The CBS correspondent and Friday morning when Schorr reports to CBS studios in Washington an FBI agent was already there questioning William Small the head of the CBS Washington bureau the FBI man said. I don’t know except it has to do with government employment.
Then the agent wanders over to Shor’s desk and started asking routine questions about his age his family his occupation sure is there and he begins answering and then suddenly stops and says I’m not going to talk anymore until you Mister agent specify what employment you’re talking about. Since the agent could or would not sure refused to answer any further questions the FBI agent says that what you want me to report yes sure says Do you mind if I ask other people about you. Yes sighed mine. Sure says Schorr explained to the agent that he was in a highly visible occupation. It would soon get around that he was being investigated and it might seem as though he was looking for a job that could be harmful to his reputation. All the rest of the day schore said calls came in from all over from people who said they’ve been approached by the FBI. Fred Friendly former president of CBS News called from his vacation home in New Hampshire. Bill Leonard Gordon Manning both vice presidents of CBS News were contacted by the FBI. Then he discovered the FBI talked to his neighbors. Well the best way to respond in this case was to turn it into a story on November 11th. The Washington Post published a detailed front page story about the FBI investigation stories said the probe had been initiated by the Office of Frederick Malik a personnel man in the White House.
The press briefing that day White House reporters are asking Ron Ziegler the press secretary what job did you get to get Daniel Schorr. That Nixon had said. What is this.
Oh it’s a job in the area of the environment and we’re searching across the nation for qualified people.
It was later described of a breakdown in communication between the personnel office and the API. There was an investigation by Senator Sam Ervin. And you know this coming all at the time of Watergate. Generally when you think of John F. Kennedy you’re thinking of the president who during his time must have had great relationships with the press and indeed you know he was a news item he was somebody that
Reporters liked to cover. But one also has to consider that much of the Kennedy strategy from the very beginning was going over reporters head. Kennedy held dozens of press conferences while he was president. Those did take the reporters out of the equation and put the president directly. The American people a strategy that has since been the ammo of almost every president. Where Kennedy did have some trouble is with the newspapers. He felt that many of them were Republican owned biased against him. And after the Bay of Pigs he did have a bit of a testy speech with the National Press Club. Here’s Kennedy
The very word secrecy is repugnant. In a free and open society and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies the secret codes and secret proceedings. There is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meeting to the very limits of official censorship and concealment that I do not intend to permit. To the extent that it is in my control but I do ask every publisher every editor and every newsman in the nation to re-examine his own standards and to recognize the nature of our country’s peril in a time of clear and present danger. The courts have held that even the privileged rights of the first amendment must yield to the public’s need for national security. But Kennedy does say this in the speech that the press is waiting for a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions. Then I can only say to you that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of clear and present danger then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its present never more imminent.
I have no intention of establishing a new Office of War Information to govern the flow of news. I have no easy answer to the dilemma that I have posed. And I would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to re-examine their own responsibilities to consider the degree and the nature of the Present Danger and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes on us all. So even John F. Kennedy who one probably thinks you know pretty good coverage maybe and you know was a friend to the press and had his issues. And one of the other things that Kennedy was fond of is is inviting reporters. Who maybe weren’t the star reporters of the organization and giving them access to the president. One famous example is that. And I think it even survives to today that that Kennedy is a speed reader. But really Richard Reeves. Check this one out. We really only know that he told a reporter that and the reporter printed it.
So doing such favors to the reporter could be just as strong of an action as intimidating reporters and it intimidates their competition.
And there are always things I think that we should be on guard for in a democracy just as much as we as an obvious statement of disdain for the press bit about the history of the president’s and the press there was talk for a long time on this.
CONVERSATION WITH CHRIS NOVEMBRINO OF DONT WORRY ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT ABOUT RECENT NEWS, TRUMP COMMENTS ON THE PRESS AND OTHER THINGS
I had a conversation with Chris Novembrino know you know him that don’t worry about the government podcast we talked about a bunch of these issues.
BRUCE: So I am joined today by Chris Novembrino of the. Don’t worry about the government podcast you know him. He is also the author of The my history can beat up your politics theme song. And he is the host. Of the all the family podcast.
So Chris thanks for coming on the show and thank you for keeping up with my resume its ever expanding. So it’s not always the easiest thing to keep up with. I have a hard time keeping up with it.
BRUCE: Well let’s talk a bit about sedition shall we. Because why not.
CHRIS: Yeah I’m into it.
BRUCE: We have a president now who has really been a departure from anything that I can think about in at least recent history. Attack the press in statements and really even attack the concept of freedom of the press as and trying to kind of isolated disconnected from the first amendment and various tweets and statements. What’s your what’s your take on that and how how has it impacted how the media’s behaving if at all.
I think that’s always the interesting question that second one I his statements about the press I mentioned on an earlier episode if he had a magic wand and could willed them to be there quite alarming. I mean he has talked openly about changing libel laws so that he can sue people and make a lot of money off of suing people for printing things that he thinks are mean against him. He recently on August 30 first here was complaining about off the record comments being made on the record when it’s almost certain that he was the one who was leaking them.
But this whole concept of off the record on the record he’s kind of wishy washy on that he talks on September 4th year of this month MSNBC maybe their license should be looked at the same with CNN that he has made a lot of very alarming if taken at face value statements. The issue has been and this is the issue in this conversation is when it comes time for him to execute on these he hasn’t shown a lot of ability or even necessarily interest to execute on them before making the statement. How would he get a libel bill through Congress especially now. Yeah.
BRUCE: It’s just that it’s alarming to our ears so sure. imagine let’s say midterms go the opposite of what most prognosticators think. Let’s say there’s not only a state but you have a 1934 2002 or 1998 type situation where the president’s party actually gained seats in an election. And now he approaches what will be a new speaker in Congress I guess it would be at that point it would be McCarthy if they win the GOP maybe Jim Jordan maybe Jim Jordan and they now it’s a very different situation.
So yeah it’s not a lot to hang the hats of people who would seek to defend the press or just the current political dynamics but these these statements do get awfully scary. I have heard the roads are now podcast.
You know I interviewed various you know Washington correspondents and at different times.
I know that you know he he does seem to talk to the press over all the vaunted attacks on the press.
BRUCE: He does seem to like talk to the press an awful lot like actually among modern presidents although he doesn’t give as many press conferences per se. There’s a lot of informal ones there’s a lot of there’s a lot of after the after the statement reporter you know he tends to take questions in the hall you know and this is something that just has a long history of you know the White House staffers do not want that president answering questions. And whether it’s Reagan or Clinton or or others or even trumpet of heroes and presidents just seemed to like to take that question from the from the White from the reporters.
CHRIS: Yeah. President Trump also likes to do long form interviews with outlets like The Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg. And in the case of Bloomberg write this off the record quote who leaked this to the media this off the record about trade in Canada the most likely suspect is in fact Donald Trump because why would the press just leak this random thing. I don’t even entirely remember what he said about Canada because these things sort of come and then they go.
That is the tricky part in putting this together I have an article from Pro Publica back in 2016 and they talk about Donald Trump and the return of seditious libel. This article is alarming. It reads a lot like something that could have been written here in 2018. Here’s an excerpt asked in June if his stance on the press would continue as president he said yes it is going to be like this. You think I’m going to change I’m not going to change. He repeated his view that quote I’m going to continue to attack the press. I find the press to be extremely dishonest. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest. In August he tweeted quote 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. He’s been saying this for a very long time.
BRUCE: Yes it’s a very big departure. I think historically from what is always a contentious confrontational tense relationship between the White House and the press almost always with every present even even presidents. So even Obama and and and Clinton I mean certainly a very tense relationship to the point that one of the major scandals of the White House in Clinton Clinton’s time that would get him tripped up on Republicans then had the house and could investigate was the White House travel office where they replaced members of the travel office in the White House. That was important because that’s where the reporters went to get their tickets to go follow the president in different places and they liked the people in there. And that generated a lot of tension between the president. STEPHANOPOULOS referred to it as they had declared war on the on the White House press corps when they did that. So there was a lot of tense times. Hillary Clinton or someone at the Clinton White House had suggested closing the door between the area where the press secretary Naix the conference where you now see Sarah Huckabee Stanner Sanders speak from the press secretary’s office the the office in the West Wing and just that little they liked reporters the ability to follow the press secretary and after follow up question once in a while.
And there was talk of of closing that door and that became a huge issue.
So we’ve always had this tense relationship. This is a little different historically because this is an attack on not just some stories but on the press in general how they operate and their freedom to do so and it’s not just a complaint about the press or a complaint about the coverage.
It’s an attack on even the press having the ability to do what they do.
He has moved from the fourth estate to literally calling the press the enemy of the people. And that is a far cry from this.
CHRIS: And and I think what’s interesting about the sedition issue particularly with the Trump and the Trump family’s intense interest in this problem is as you discussed on the history side of this show there isn’t necessarily Supreme Court precedent around this in the way you might think because the Alien and Sedition Act predates Marbury versus Madison.
So there have been various rulings throughout time including York Times versus Sullivan which is probably the big sedition touched that was back in 1964. But to bring it back to the Trump people Melania Trump’s libel lawyer when she was doing The Daily Mail in Maryland for a story about her modeling days her lawyer wanted Newar Times versus Sullivan to be overruled wanted overturned.
And this may be surprising to some people especially since this idea of freedom of the press and the ability to criticize the government seems somewhat anti-American. A lot of this stuff isn’t codified the Sedition Act is not settled law in the way you might think.
Yeah I think that for so long it’s a troubling and tense aspect of any democracy is that the the press is not always viewed in a positive light.
BRUCE Alexis Tocqueville’s famous book The Visitor from France is looking at American democracy has both viewpoints that we still kind of see today and then the tense relationship that we see today in that Tocqueville was not really a fan of American journalism but he was a fan of freedom of the press. But he he made statements that were very cover you know between the two in we’ll see if I can get a quick one up here.
CHRIS: I love how Bruce Carlson can just pull out democracy in America.
BRUCE (READING TOQUEVILLE) I confess that I do not entertain that firm and complete attachment to the liberty of the press which things that are supremely good in their very nature or want to excite in the mind.
So in other words Tocqueville saying you know I just don’t get excited about that concept freedom of the press because he’s seen as so many other presidents.
We know that the story of John Adams has seen what the press can do. And I approve of it more from a recollection of the evils it pervades than from a consideration of the advantages it is sure.
CHRIS: Well this is like Winston Churchill’s quote about democracy being the worst system in the world capitalism being the worst system in the world except for all the others.
BRUCE: I think it’s absolutely true it is that the spirit of the journalist is to appeal crudely directly and artlessly to the passions of the people he is addressing forsaking principles in order to portray individuals pursue them into their private lives and laid bare their weaknesses and vices. It’s a very difficult and tense relationship that’s why I think it’s important to go back to Tocqueville to see how long it has been seen between the press and the government. Because the press’s very job will reduce in almost any government in almost any time the stature of the government the authority of the government by poking holes in it and that was certainly the complaint of even George Washington the first president. I’m being compared like a commons the more of a Nero here you know and and end the press is probably responsible among many other factors for his retirement after two terms.
CHRIS: So Justice Brennan had an interesting code at the end of that 1964 New York Times vs. Sullivan ruling where he said that the Sedition Act was never tested in this court. The attack upon its validity has carried the day in the court of history. Well what’s interesting about the quote in Brett Kavanaugh as you’ll hear in this clip that we’re about to play mentioned as well is that the court of history is not an actual place. So I want to play this clip from Brett Kavanaugh and then I want to get your reaction to it.
SENATOR KOLABACH: We’ve witnessed unprecedented attacks on journalists in journalism over the past several months. This should be concerning to everyone because the role of journalists is critical to our democracy. This is personal for me. My dad was a journalist. His entire life and even wrote a blog. He’s now 90. For a while he probably didn’t read that one though. In New York Times v. Sullivan the court issued a landmark ruling in support of First Amendment protections for the press by affirming that when newspapers report on public officials they can say what they want unless they say something untrue with quote actual malice unquote under New York Times v. Sullivan. You believe the First Amendment would permit public officials to sue the media under any standard less demanding than actual malice. And can you explain what that standard means to you.
BRET KAVANAGH: Well the Supreme Court has elaborated on and applied that standard repeatedly over time I have to as a lower court judge on that. So that precedent is now been applied over and over and over again. I’m not aware of much effort to deviate from that standard. And interestingly a New York Times vs. Sullivan the court in the course of that opinion said that the Sedition Act of 1798 98 been overturned in the court of history which I thought was an interesting turn of phrase in the New York Times versus solvent. Of course the Sedition Act was the act that said that criticism of public officials was illegal in the United States. In 1798 never actually struck down by a court. New York Times vs. Sullivan made made clear that that act had been overturned in the court of history.
BRUCE: Yeah well I think that it’s first of all any you know like any good Supreme Court nominee. He’s trying to dodge from making a statement as much as he can and finding what positive he can say without taking a personal position on it right. In other words hinting at precedent without there being actual president. But I listened to that and I think that a statement like that in a court is precedent. I mean that would be my feeling and that many plaintiffs and defendants in the future will be using that statement as precedent any way. In other words that that because one thing that a statement like that does in a Supreme Court decision I would argue is reduce the need for a future court to decide even further.
This is actually an interesting time for a president to be feel this way about the press and press freedoms because in terms of the general concept of freedom of speech this court the Roberts court has been a very strong defender of that concept.
And if you look at the Westboro Baptist Church decision I mean not even one that I agreed with but an extreme defense of freedom of speech.
If you look at Citizens United now you know far be it from us to two this is this is going to be an interesting point for a lot of people on the left that they’re going to be maybe at some point taking refuge in the Citizens United decision. But the very reason for that decision even though it was about campaign finance directly and even though it’s mostly been about it’s been it’s been something Selover if celebrated by anyone celebrated by conservatives for corporate speech. The reason Kennedy came down on that decision was that he he thought about the example of say the New York Times and that there could be a real codified corporation that would need freedom of association protection for its reach. Otherwise people would say you’re individual reporters have freedom of speech but you the New York Times do not. So the Roberts court has actually been very defensive of freedom of speech.
It’s an interesting time to plant president now into the mix that is attacking press freedom.
Yes. And it would be interesting to see how far this would get challenge.
CHRIS: I think OK so I don’t anticipate Donald Trump trying to get a piece of libel reform through Congress and I think even in kind of the most fortuitous circumstances where Jim Jordan becomes speaker of the house and they still hold the Senate I think it would be fairly tricky to actually get a libel law that would pass constitutional muster. But what I could see happening is a legal challenge and maybe perhaps through or even two New York Times v. Sullivan and I mean maybe this is just a byproduct the Trump era. I find myself thinking that everything that’s not nailed down can be taken from the house right now. So when I see this loophole of the Sedition Act being tried in the court of history and never actually tried it the Supreme Court I’m very worried that someone looks at that and goes huh. Well the court does not replace.
Yeah I do agree that if we’re talking about Cavanaugh’s mind let’s say he might be he could be going either way. He could be signaling that. Or are you crazy. That’s decided precedent. Here’s what that court said. Or it could be setting him up for a later time.
Well there really isn’t any precedent and I didn’t lie in my hearing.
He does seem to have a bias towards if it’s not explicitly spoken on it can be aired at the Supreme Court.
Yeah I think like and you’re getting you know you’re certainly going to get then you might say some interesting. It’s going to be some interesting dynamics. I will you know if a libel case about a public official comes to the court I still think this court is going to be you know that might be him. If what you’re saying is correct and Clarence Thomas perhaps going 72 I think that there’s a there’s so so. But again I never you know we don’t want to maybe Gore too.
We don’t know where Gorsuch would land but I’m with you that I think that this is probably a 6 3 or Roberts is not going to allow this line to get crossed. That is my gut instinct.
BRUCE: But you want to add that and that’s certainly the case. But I almost think that is like even it’s not even getting to Roberts I believe. But again we don’t want to be too comfortable with just current political dynamics. You have a president who I believe historically is pushing the envelope. In other words interning something that has been present I’ll have a few examples of really playing hardball or different type of games with the press and not treating the freedom of the press as this noble concept like we’re talking about to someone who as in so many things has been more expressive almost to say a very on the good side bold on the bad side cartoonish perhaps level of expression about what I say what I feel and this is how I feel about it. Whereas we you know there are a group of presidents who have had a relationship with the press that are a view of the press that is not exactly in tune with the the first amendment and in their actions.
CHRIS: I think the last three presidents honestly have bed fairly rough dog press freedoms. It was rough during the Bush era. The Obama administration I think one of the cognitive dissonance is that a lot of people who are left of center like myself deal with is that Barack Obama talked to a really good game but in practice he was pretty aggressive against press freedoms and was not afraid to use the Department of Justice to go after journalists. I mean now we move to Donald Trump and Donald Trump is obviously more bombastic and I just read his tweet in the fifth year because we need to talk about this to bring this out of the hypothetical that Cavanagh was talking about and why was on Cavanaugh’s point in the first place. This anonymous op ed in The New York Times. So on the 5th of September Donald Trump says Does the so-called quote senior administration official really exist or is it just the filling new york times with another phony source. If the gutless anonymous person does indeed exist the Times Maust for national security purposes turn him or her over to the government at once. Right now I know most of us read that and go OK but that shouldn’t be taken literally. But let’s stop and actually take that literally. Trump is charging that the New York Times is making up sources that that’s where this libel stuff comes in. He claims that the sources are phony. And then he claims that the New York Times needs to hand over the source for national security purposes. There’s not a legal argument there for that but the New York Times is scared enough that they said we’re convertor the Department of Justice understands that the First Amendment protects all American citizens and that it would not participate in such a blatant abuse of government power. The president’s threats both underscore why we must safeguard the identity of the writer of this op ed and serve as a reminder of the importance of a free and independent press to American democracy.
Yeah I think where you get into potential danger is if we we we know we’ve been in a sense at war for a long time but things have settled down at least on this side of the world. You know it’s not settled down or if you’re still serving say in Afghanistan.
But at that time during the early Bush administration those early days after the attack of 9/11 you could see where if if if if Bush had was making statements like that there might be a little more go along with it like look I need to figure out for the for combating terrorism I need to know right now who made this statement. And so Trump is sort of pushing at it wounds and maybe making issues more clear that we need to defend against in a situation where it might be more real. I mean that’s the positive if you’re getting any positive out of the way Trump behaves. It’s that perhaps in the future he’s revealing he’s like he’s like your Kracker hacker.
He’s revealing the weak points in your democratic infrastructure so that if there a less more skilled practitioner the perhaps he’ll be ready. And that’s one of the things that I think is why it makes it a complex debate. But certainly and what you’re talking about which is hey cough up the person who made this statement and bringing it more or less of a press freedom and more about a government action in other words and also making it more about the person than the media there might be some play there and some of that might pass muster with the Supreme Court. In other words if it’s just about I need to know who it is that made this statement. If it’s about the president criticizing the president that’s one thing. But if it’s about we’re getting into a national security situation and someone reveals that you know courts might be a little more willing then to go with it and someone like I have an Alito might be a little more willing to say yeah you’ve got to cough up the person or face the penalties. But in general if it’s about you need to cough up the person who made a criticism of the president I think he saw Citizens United and in some other decisions that that’s we hopefully that’s not the way it’s going.
I found that in the past you talked about the the the past presidents.
BRUCE: If you look at the Bush administration if you look at so many of them in the past if not in a direct attack on the press there has been a lot of like manipulation of the press which in a siege of the prestige of the press this actually has a not surprisingly a long history. No way things like Ari Fleischer who I think in different times you know are has been a sympathetic figure to Trump and yet he’s still around.
CHRIS: He’s still mostly a Trump defender.
I think that he’s gunning for that point at which you know somewhere in 2019 or somewhere in 2023 the there’s like in the last year of the Trump presidency they need a press secretary you know maybe they call Fleischer and he was. There was a situation where several situations where he played real hardball with the press and they described it that way.
There is a one Houston Chronicle reporter who asked a question and Fleischer said Your question has been quote noted in the building. Nixon Capstick kind of enemies list. Nixon we know on the inside was writing all kinds of notes to his staff about different press and how their enemies and how they were against them. And maybe a lot of it didn’t go we didn’t get Nixon’s feelings out in public. George W. Bush called a reporter a major league a hole. We can’t forget that.
And even if he joked about it later and called the same reporter in a correspondents dinner a major league asset to the newspaper profession I still think you find that there’s a more sophisticated game of opposition to the press going on with some past presidents and Gahn.
You know it goes all the way back I mean Kennedy a little bit coming from Kennedy played favorites he’d take some reporter that was like a nobody and bring him into the White House. That’s almost as bad as attacking the press in my view because you’re you’re kind of giving them favoritism over there.
There is no you’re clouding out the people who you don’t want to cover stories because they’re too good.
Right. Right. You know this is the thing that makes it tricky when you’re trying to weigh Trump’s performance on the press versus Obama versus Bush’s versus other presidents. I think without a doubt his instincts on the media are far worse. And as I’ve said before the magic wand if he had it what he would do in terms of the fourth estate I think would be very very alarming to people across the political spectrum because it would be something we would identify as not very American. But when you get into these other presidents it’s a much more sophisticated dance and it’s a much more competent dance. And this is really important when you’re weighing this stuff out. We’re looking at two years of Trump’s presidency not even two years of Trump’s presidency versus eight years of Bush and eight years of Obama. They just had a lot more time to do a lot more things. As rough as these Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders press briefings can be on the mind. Are they really necessarily massive affronts on press freedoms as a concept right.
But I do wonder sometimes if Bush looks in quotes so much quote better especially people on the left are talking about oh I wish we had Bush back and things like that. I wonder.
I think that Trump looks more radically different because he’s coming after Obama. I do wonder if Trump had become president in 2009 after the Bush administration if we wouldn’t have just seen it as a little bit more radical version of some of the same.
I mean are we assuming in this example that Trump is having to fix the financial crisis.
Well I’m not sure you know it’s certainly possible that that could have been his ticket if it were to happen right.
He would come in and say I alone could fix it. I just I think in that model he would get in and be really overwhelmed by the financial crisis because arguably Barack Obama who I consider to be a sharper individual on a lot of those matters are more keen certainly in terms of advisory and administrative stuff. He was overwhelmed by the financial crisis the financial crisis was overwhelming for some of the best minds of that era. Ben Bernanke and other great economists didn’t quite know what caused this subprime mortgage crisis or how to undo the damage now that the damage was done. They had good educated guesses. Even then it took a while to get the car out of the ditch by Obama’s own admission in 2008 feeds into everything.
There’s no doubt that we had a devastating recession and the political class in Washington perhaps because Barack Obama was elected and it felt like a change like really ignored some of the stuff under the surface. I mean that’s almost at this point that’s almost a very basic comment to make. I think everyone’s learning that what I’m more mean to talk about is that some things that appear mechanisms of the White House operation and things that are said in the press that appear to be radical if there were not.
George W. Bush administration we may not be starting even with a trough we may not be starting in the same place. George W. Bush in the news. Sure. The concept of orange alerts. Now this week you’re on alert.\ Yeah I think that you know there again if you talk about in the end and that’s great point to make and and also that he could manipulate the first episode of this podcast was about Bush and the media. And then of course I went into other presidents and talked about them. That was the very first episode of my instructions Politics 2006.
I felt strongly about it because I felt that he had was sort of using the the news and misleading and planting stories in newspapers and then sort of like changing the statement that he had made and this had to do with Iraq and not even remember all the details of the story at this time.
But certainly things were not hunky dory with the press the relationship in terms of embedded reporters during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was one of the most controlled of any recent presidency and certainly was different from the way that reporters covered Vietnam. Now we know why that presidency would be like that but I just think on so many fronts the changes that we think are are so radical and they are because we have this flashy personality the way he talks about the press is radical and the framework that he is giving his supporters to think about.
The media is radical to actually say overtly that the press is the enemy of the people and to give people that notion that is had real world consequences right.
CHRIS: We’ve actually seen shooting deaths of press offices because of that framework. But to your point in terms of actual practical policy I think a lot of this stuff is baked in the cake. Why is Donald Trump able to go on Fox and Friends in 2015 and hit the entirety of the Republican audience not just in 2015 but in 2011 when he used to go on Hannity’s show and really established himself as the birther guy. He was able to do that because Roger Ailes as a byproduct of the George Herbert Walker Bush infrastructure set up Fox News and then George W. Bush in his presidency really established that marriage between a Republican White House and Fox News as their news media outlet Fox and Friends is where Republicans go and get their morning news. And Donald Trump slides in in 2015 and that infrastructure is there for him to take advantage of.
And that fact is also has very long roots in history in other words we talk about the media and this is all alarming and the reason it’s most alarming to me like so many Americans is that it’s a direct attack on the concept of the press.
BRUCE: Although the the idea that presidents past would treat the press say in less noble concepts than the first amendment might seem to call for more American values might seem called for after a view of history is not as surprising. And also both in terms of attacking press fighting with the press. I’m on record for instance back in 2009 I had said that when Obama had made a direct attack on Fox News and there was a big to do about it I had said that it’s fairly normal and also OK for a president to stumble a bit for White House to get into rumble of it with the press fighting about the coverage is OK. There are consequences to it if you do it too much if your boy who cried wolf too much of everything is fake news for instance and there’s a place for partisan media too.
CHRIS: I want to be absolutely clear like there’s a place in my mind at least for the fox is in the MSNBC News of the world.
BRUCE: We just have to know what they are and it has to be fairly clear there’s a historic place to the reality that that concept of starting say a media organization that’s going to be a little more friendly to one side or the other has a really long history. I mean Andrew Jackson virtually had his own newspaper. That was the Whigs. When a few years ago they were in control had theirs. Every time you see a newspaper across this country there’s still some that have the name Democrat in it like the Arkansas Democrat Gazette is one like that is a holdover shoe to where it used to be that newspapers used to be party organs and were printed for that purpose and their subscribers were much the same as political subscribers. So part of the media’s certainly is a political media and there’s all sorts of variations of manipulating the press and getting favorable coverage that presidents engage in and using the power that they have which is you know you’re not gonna get covered by this White House if you don’t you know you don’t give us favorable coverage and that negotiation and trade has the long view in history.
What this whole thing the crux of everything we’re talking about defensible is this.
BRUCE: Are we simply talking about a president who because of his way that he is his personality is not articulating in a skilled way what he wants and therefore creating a statement that sounds like the end of democracy or is this the most scary thing that could happen to the republic.
BRUCE: And I think that people who support the president fortunately this probably more than any issue don’t have any choice but to say it’s the latter. We we have to react to something like that because it’s hitting such a strong American values that and you hope that hey this guy just can’t express Welwyn and are really the enemy and the people he’s just saying like the people that come to my rallies you should be mad at the New York Times and cancel your subscription. But he’s not able to articulate it that way.
CHRIS: Bruce I’m going to go back to this from the Pro Publica article in February. He pledged that quote one of the things that I’m going to do if I win and I hope that I do. And we’re certainly leading is I’m going to open up our libel laws. So when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws so that when the New York Times writes a hit piece that is a total disgrace or when the Washington Post which is there for other reasons writes a hit piece we can sue them and win money rather than have no chance of winning because they’re totally protected. You see with me they’re not protected because I’m not like other people but I’m not taking money. I’m not taking their money. We’re going to open up those libel laws folks and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never been sued before.
BRUCE: Ok well you know in a sense that goes to answer my question but I think it is a little it is still more complex because I still think that’s you know campaign rhetoric and you see you see in his perspective in that that he and this has been the whole mantra this has been the mantra since 2015 that he didn’t have a chance to win because so much of the establishment is against it against him and he’s linking that Cresta part of the establishment that one hit piece Gilgit. And certainly there were numerous times who it looked like that was going to happen with Trump.
So that’s his defense he’s also a person that throughout the history of his real estate career you know lawsuits have always been a has always been a feature of the Trump Trump M.O. let’s say so lawsuits are definitely a go to for him and he did that in 2006 so in 2006 he actually brings a lawsuit against Tim O’Brien over the book because it went after one of the things that don’t trump is particularly sensitive about in this case it was about his wealth. And this book made assertions that Donald Trump is not worth nearly as much as he says he is. So Trump took Tim O’Brien to court over this and his whole rationale for doing that. And this is ultimately why I think he wants to change the libel laws. It’s not even about winning this suit because he knows that these claims aren’t false. What he says and he says it explicitly is he spent a couple bucks on legal fees. They spent a whole lot more I did to make Tim O’Brien’s life miserable which I’m happy about. That’s his quote.
Yeah well I mean you know you’re you’re dealing with a person who that that’s certainly his mentality of course he’s president now and not a candidate not a underdog he’s in the position of government and I think that hopefully everyone changes their perspective on it that wow these statements made by a you know a real estate mogul has had his ups and downs is one thing and statements by a candidate even who feels like there’s a big a like so many candidates is going to use the rhetoric of the Washington establishment to bolster his campaign is another thing.
But now you’re in the presidency and the lack of criticism of him is very dangerous and everyone should flag it.
I think absolutely no. I think your example of the Kracker hacker earlier that metaphor that’s a really really strong metaphor for people to be focused on here because this has only ever been tested in the court of history and not the Supreme Court.