Tag Archives: First Amendment

Actually, Mr. POTUS, it’s all ‘legal’

Donald J. Trump continues to fly off the rails with his ongoing assault on the media.

Here is what he posted this morning on Twitter: A REAL scandal is the one sided coverage, hour by hour, of networks like NBC & Democrat spin machines like Saturday Night Live. It is all nothing less than unfair news coverage and Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can’t be legal? Only defame & belittle! Collusion?

If you can past the mangled syntax of this tweet, I’ll provide a simple explanation of why the president — as usual — is dead wrong.

Mr. President, it’s all “legal.” It’s protected by the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment says the government cannot interfere with what a “free press” reports. It says media freedom shall not be “abridged.”

How in the world do the courts rule on the accuracy of media reports? There is no defamation here. There is no slander. No libel.

I get that the president is uncomfortable with the tone of much of the media coverage.

One more time — but most certainly not the final time: It goes with the territory, Mr. President. The media are on duty to do precisely what they are doing at this moment. They are seeking to hold you and your administration accountable for your actions, your rhetoric and the myriad promises you make.

Yes, there is a church-state ‘separation’

A former colleague of mine used to insist that because the United States Constitution doesn’t contain the phrase “separation of church and state” that the concept somehow is not relevant.

Well, I would remind him that the First Amendment about a prohibition against writing laws that establish a state religion implies the separation graphically.

Enter the new man nominated to become the U.S. attorney general, William Barr. He has declared his skepticism about the “secular” state the founders created in the late 18th century. He wants to invoke “God’s law” when enforcing the laws of the land.

I am going to presume he means the laws of the Christian God. But what about the laws of all the other gods that Americans worship? The Islamic god, the Jewish god, the Hindu god, the Buddhist god, the Shinto god? Do they matter? Of course they do! Or at least they should.

Except the founders created a Constitution that say there should be no law passed “with respect” to a particular religion. It stipulates there should be “no religious test” for anyone seeking public office.

The words “Christian,” “Christianity” or “Jesus Christ” are not mentioned in the Constitution. Nor does it mention “Jewish” or “Muslim” or “Buddhist” or “Hindu.”

So, to the AG-designate, I merely want to urge him to stick to enforcing the laws of the land, as enacted by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the courts.

Hey, POTUS already has his media lapdogs!

Donald J. Trump has expressed a desire for the federal government to create a TV network that would report favorably on his exploits as president of the United States.

It’s a preposterous notion on at least one level: My reading of the U.S. Constitution prohibits such a thing in this country. A “free press” is supposed to operate without government interference or influence.

Trump, though, has expressed envy over the love and kisses heaped on his boyfriend, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, by TV anchors in that reclusive nation. Well, that is laughable on its face. Those TV anchors are employed by a murderer — Kim — and they would be killed if they didn’t say what he demanded of them.

Now, as for Trump’s desire for favorable TV coverage, he already has a major cable “news” network in his hip pocket. Fox News — aka Faux News — is chock full of talking heads who suck up to the president daily. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, the trio on “Fox & Friends,” all are loath to say anything critical of Trump. So, they don’t. Plus, the network brings on an array of “contributors,” the vast majority of whom follow the lead of the network’s staff of anchors and correspondents.

Which brings me to my question of the day: Why does Donald Trump want to create a TV network that slobbers all over him when he already has one doing his bidding?

Bizarre.

State-run TV station? Sure thing, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. “Authoritarian Wanna-be in Chief” Trump wants the government to establish a TV network.

Yep, the protector of the U.S. Constitution has suggested the government establish a network to report news that is favorable to the president, his policies, his pronouncements and the direction of the government he was elected to lead.

Hmm. I believe the Constitution — the one that Trump swore when he took office to uphold — forbids such a thing. It’s that First Amendment clause that refers to a “free press” not being abridged.

This suggestion well might rank among the more idiotic ever to come from the 45th president of the United States. That’s really saying something, when you consider the mountain of idiocy that has poured out of his pie hole.

I’ll also remind everyone that the president once expressed a level of envy that North Korea’s TV anchors speak so glowingly about dictator/murderer Kim Jong Un. He wishes he could get that kind of love from the networks in this country, or so he said during his visit with Kim in Singapore earlier this year.

Here’s a reminder, Mr. President. Those TV anchors work for the same government that is run by Kim Jong Un. If they were to report the news accurately, you know, chronicling such things as the starvation and the abject poverty that afflicts the population, they likely would be yanked off the air, executed and their corpses would be fed to starving dogs.

I hope the president gets the picture.

However, I doubt that he does.

Mitt takes up cudgel for a ‘free press’

U.S. Sen.-elect Mitt Romney is filling me with hope that he might become a Republican who actually is willing to challenge the nation’s demonizer in chief.

The media, according to Mitt, aren’t the “enemy of the people.” Even a “biased” media, the new senator from Utah writes in an op-ed for USA Today, are essential to the nation.

I agree with him. So do all of Donald J. Trump’s predecessors. So should most of the congressional Republicans who will take office in January along with their Democratic colleagues.

Sen.-elect Romney says categorically that Trump is wrong to vilify the media. He writes: America is indebted as a democratic nation to the free press for truths it has uncovered, for truth it has disseminated, and for falsehoods it has repudiated. The press uncovered the government’s lies about the war in Vietnam; it exposed Watergate; it opened our eyes to the sexual abuse of children by priests; and, most recently, it shed a light on the sexual assault by numerous men in power. The free press dispelled the false conspiracies about the 9/11 attacks, President Obama’s birth, and Joe McCarthy’s lurking communists. The work of a free press is essential.

The president doesn’t see it that way. He says the media that report on issues he deems critical are disseminating “fake news,” which of course is the ultimate irony given his own lying about so many issues, so many individuals. He has defamed seemingly countless public figures with lies.

But I’ll leave it to Mitt Romney and perhaps a few other brave souls in public life to try to hold the president accountable for his continuing attacks on the media.

Donald Trump could not be more wrong. Mitt Romney couldn’t be more correct.

CNN, Acosta score a win for the First Amendment

I am wondering now if Donald Trump’s “enemies of the people” list has just grown by one member.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee to the federal bench, has ruled that the White House must restore CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta’s press credentials.

The president ordered Acosta’s credentials yanked after he and the correspondent got into another public tussle at a press conference the day after the midterm election. It isn’t the first time Trump and Acosta have jousted.

Let me be clear on one thing. I detest the idea of a reporter becoming part of the story. That simply is not right. Acosta has this annoying way of thrusting himself onto the stage when reporting the news. For his part, though, the president reacts hideously when confronted with reporters who ask him tough questions.

The crux of the judge’s ruling seems to center on the stated reasons the White House yanked Acosta’s credentials. It changed its story, but the final version of the White House’s rationale is insufficient to merit such a drastic move, according to Judge Kelly.

This is a victory on behalf of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, the one that guarantees “freedom of the press” from government interference. And, yes, given the political nature of judicial appointments, I find it fascinating that a Trump-nominated judge would rule against this particular president who’s made such a hash of his dispute with the media.

If only now we can get back to some form of what’s called in Congress “regular order.” That means reporters ask questions, the person who gets the questions answers them, and the reporters move on to the next question. This White House vs. The Media idiocy has to stop. How about it stopping right now?

As for the judge ruling against the president who nominated him, it validates the notion that lifetime appointments have this liberating effect on those who have the authority to rule from the federal bench.

Media still doing their job — even under heavy fire

Ronald Reagan knew it. So did Gerald Ford. So does George W. Bush. Same with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush.

They knew that a free press is essential to a thriving democratic system of government. They knew the press, no matter how persistent it is in the pursuit of making government accountable, was integral to the maintenance of a free society.

Why, then, is these men’s successor, Donald John Trump, at war with the media? He has yanked the press credentials of CNN’s chief White House reporter, Jim Acosta. The president is threatening to confiscate the passes of other White House scribes.

He calls the media the “enemy of the people.” He acts like an autocrat. Trump wants the media to report only what he deems to be “favorable” to his agenda. He calls all other reportage to be “fake news,” which is a monstrously unfair characterization of the reporting they do. I usually equate “fake news” with circumstances that are made up, fabricated … the kind of lies that, say, suggest that a president isn’t constitutionally qualified to hold the office to which he was elected twice because he was born in Africa.

Trump’s suggestion that “fake news” is conveyed by major news media is the most hideous of the countless lies he has told since becoming a politician in his quest for the presidency.

The president’s ongoing combat with the media is a struggle he cannot win. Nor should he.

After all, the nation’s founders had the right idea by guaranteeing a free press in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including it in the first set of civil liberties attached to the nation’s founding government document.

Gun control, gun-owners’ rights: not mutually exclusive

When the shooter blasted his way through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day, the debate over gun control erupted.

When another shooter massacred those worshipers at Tree of Life synagogue just the other day, the gun control debate has barely scored a blip.

What’s up here? Don’t tell me the issue is dead and buried. It’s not.

The Tree of Life loon opened fire with an AR-15 semi-auto rifle, killing 11 Jewish congregants in what’s being called a hate crime. It is similar to an M-16 military rifle, with this exception: The M-16 has a switch that can make it a fully automatic machine gun; the AR-15 doesn’t have it.

I happen to believe in the Second Amendment, the one that says a citizen’s right to “keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” That all said and understood, I do not believe that the right to keep and bear arms precludes reasonable gun control legislation that keeps faith with the Second Amendment.

I few gun control legislation and gun owners’ rights the same way I view the biblical theory of creation and the theory of evolution. Neither the biblical version of Earth’s creation or Charles Darwin’s evolutionary notion are mutually exclusive … if you conclude — as I do — that Earth wasn’t created in six calendar days.

The Second Amendment has wiggle room within it, I believe, to allow for legislation that makes it more difficult for criminals or those with emotional or mental issues to acquire a firearm. Those so-called impediments to “law-abiding citizens'” rights need not apply if the legislation is applied and enforced strictly.

Yet the gun-owners-rights lobby argues that the Second Amendment, as it was written in the late 18th century, is sacrosanct. It is virtually the holy word, much like the Bible. Don’t mess with it in any fashion, they say.

I will argue that if there is a sacrosanct amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it isn’t the Second … it’s the First Amendment. Religious freedom, the right to express one’s views and a free press must not be trifled with.

The Second Amendment doesn’t take into account the evolution of weaponry since the time that the founders wrote it.

I am never going to call for the abolition of the Second Amendment, I continue to believe it can be amended, improved and made more reasonable — while keeping faith with its pledge to permit firearm ownership to U.S. citizens.

Colin Powell: Trump lacks moral authority

I once wished out loud that Colin Powell, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and secretary of state, would run for president of the United States.

He didn’t. His comments this week, though, have revived my interest in this soldier/statesman, who has declared that “We the People” has been replaced by “Me the president” in the mind of Donald J. Trump.

Powell’s bottom line is that Trump lacks the moral authority to be the world’s leader.

In a wide-ranging interview on CNN, Powell touched on a number of key issues, such as Trump’s supposed hatred of the media. “How can a president … get up and say that the media is the enemy of Americans? Hasn’t he read the First Amendment? You’re not supposed to like everything the press says or what anyone says in the First Amendment,” he said.

Powell needs to be heard

I don’t believe the president understands the First Amendment, or the founders’ intent when they protected the press against government interference or coercion … or bullying.

Powell said “the world cannot believe” that the government is separating children from their families as they cross the border into the United States illegally.

Oh, how I wish this man hadn’t taken himself out of the presidential running in the mid-1990s when he was the talk of the nation. But he did and all but declared there could be no way in the world he would run for the nation’s highest office.

Damn!

A tip of the hat to the ‘enemy of the people’

I want to tip my proverbial hat to the media, the institutions labeled by the president as the “enemy of the American people.”

They continue to do their jobs. The men and women who practice their noble craft do it with honor and distinction.

The New York Times has just published an astonishing — and lengthy in the extreme — article that peels the bark off the disguise under which Donald Trump hid while campaigning for the presidency.

He told Americans he is a “self-made business success.” The Times story tells an entire different tale, that Donald Trump relied heavily on the generosity of his late father, Fred, and that he manipulated the tax system to obtain cushy deals all along the way.

Now, to be sure none of this likely will change the political balance. Anti-Trump Americans — such as me — will use the material to criticize the president; pro-Trump Americans will use it to bash the media. Trump himself will bash the media and the Times specifically. That’s his modus operandi. It stinks.

However, the media continue to step up. They continue to do what their professional journalists are trained to do. They are holding government accountable.

Every one of Donald Trump’s predecessors as president has understood the media’s role in building our representative democracy and their contributions to strengthening it.

Exhaustive and meticulous reporting by media outlets such as The New York Times demonstrate for all the world the power of a free press, the only privately held business expressly protected against government interference/bullying/coercion in the U.S. Constitution.

None of this, of course, will dissuade Donald Trump from demonizing the media. He’ll continue to speak of what he calls “fake news,” even though he is the No. 1 purveyor of outright lies and prevarication.

Many of the rest of us know better. The media are standing tall. I am proud to have been a member of the mainstream media.