Red Alert: The First Amendment Is in Danger

President Donald Trump at a news conference, at the White House in Washington, April 20, 2017. Memos kept by James Comey indicated that Trump asked the former FBI director to consider jailing journalists who published classified information. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times)President Trump at a news conference, at the White House in Washington, April 20, 2017. Memos kept by James Comey indicated that Trump asked the former FBI director to consider jailing journalists who published classified information. (Photo: Al Drago / The New York Times)

Of all the incredible statements issuing from the fantasy factory that is the imagination of Donald Trump, the one he recently made in a speech to graduates of the Coast Guard academy, that “no politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or so unfairly” sets an unenviable record for brazen ignorance plus a toxic mix of self-aggrandizement and self-pity. In his eyes, the most villainous persecutors are the mainstream “fake news” organizations that dare to oppose his actions and expose his lies.

So, having already banned nosy reporters from news corporations that he doesn’t like, branded their employers as enemies of the nation and expressed a wish to departed FBI Director James Comey that those in the White House who leak his secrets should be jailed, why should there be any doubt that he would, if he could, clap behind bars reporters whom, in his own cockeyed vision, he saw as hostile? His fingers itch to sign an order or even better a law that would give him that power. Could he possibly extract such legislation from Congress?

Such a bill might accuse the press of “seditious libel,” meaning the circulation of an opinion tending to induce a belief that an action of the government was hostile to the liberties and happiness of the people. It also could be prohibited to “defame the president by declarations directly or indirectly to ‘criminate’ his motives in conducting official business.”

To see more stories like this, visit Moyers & Company at Truthout.

With a net that wide, practically anything that carried even the slightest whiff of criticism could incur a penalty of as much as five years in jail and a fine of $5,000. Just for good measure, couple it with an Act…

Read more