Back in February, Donald Trump vowed to open up the libel laws when he becomes president. If he’s successful in winning the election and making good on this threat, he aims to silence his critics by taking legal action against newspapers: “We’re gonna sue you like you’ve never been sued before.” Trump has shown contempt for the First Amendment on other occasions, and on Sunday, he did so again. The Republican nominee appears to have taken issue with the New York Times and fired off some tweets in their direction.
The timing of Trump’s anger coincides with The Times‘ Saturday piece that dives into “the failing mission” to keep Trump from alienating Republican establishment voters by saying outrageous things. The latest round of heads hitting desks was prompted by two major Trump gaffes from the past week. First, he hinted that the “2nd Amendment people” could “do something” to stop Hillary Clinton and her appointed Supreme Court justices. Then he called President Obama “the founder of ISIS” and doubled down before claiming he was only being sarcastic. During that walk back, Trump gleefully crowed about how the media has such a hard time figuring him out.
The Times piece dove into desperate attempts by the Trump campaign to reel in their candidate. He reportedly phones campaign manager Paul Manafort to rail against how the media treats him, and he spends a lot of time “grumbling about how he was better off following his own instincts during the primaries and suggesting he should not have heeded their calls for change.” The paper then quotes Rudy Giuliani as admitting Trump’s having a rough time realizing that the general election is a much different beast than the primary race. The Times also claims that Trump blows off his policy advisers only to bust in with last-minute interjections, such as Ivanka’s suggestion of a child-care tax deduction. This leads to a discussion of how Trump cares much more about the opinions of his family than any policy experts.
Well, Trump’s not happy. He continued his Twitter rant and lambasted the “corrupt media,” which he believes affects his poll ratings. Trump believes the media only shows the negative happenings at his rallies, and he’d be winning over “Crooked Hillary” by 20% if the media would only cover him honestly.
And he took another shot at the First Amendment for good measure.
The Washington Post also discussed The Time piece in terms of Trump’s failure to do what other candidates do. That is, Trump is only relying upon his Twitter and media coverage for publicity. He’s not buying ad space or sending out flyers. He’s only popping off on Twitter and saying controversial things at rallies, so this is what the media is covering. But that didn’t stop Trump from threatening to revoke The Times‘ press credentials at a Saturday rally.
On Sunday, CNN’s Brian Stelter aired a segment on The Times article. Stelter describes Trump’s words as an “anti-media campaign” with continued mentions of a rigged election. Stelter spoke with Trump Communication Adviser Jason Miller, who trashed the paper and said all subscribers should withdraw their funds. Stelter wanted to know, “How can we believe what [Trump]’s actually saying?” Miller continued to insist that the media is treating Trump unfairly (and that The Times made up meetings that never happened), and the campaign is unified. Stelter challenged Miller to specify “which meetings” didn’t happen, and Miller could only repeat himself. Stelter asked if Miller wanted any specific corrections or if he could pinpoint the “manufactured sources,” and Miller had nothing but generalities to offer.