Trump’s Twitter Assault On the First Amendment.
President Moving From Words To Calls To Action Against The Constitution.
The President’s past verbal attacks against the media and free speech were often over the top. In February he went so far as to (in Hitler-esque fashion) declare the press “the enemy of the American people.”
Since then the President’s verbal attacks on the media have been unrelenting. He constantly labels things “fake news” that turn out to be true. Despite this poor record, the President’s attacks have recently taken a new and frightening turn as he moves from mere insults to calls for government action against the media and speech he deems offensive.
The President recently took to Twitter to go much further than just insult what he deems “Fake News Networks.” He is now urging official government action against them. President Trump urged Congress to investigate our free press for being a free press.
The Senate Intelligence Committee does not normally concern itself with the domestic media. As the name suggests the Senate Intelligence Committee is generally concerned with oversight of the United States intelligence community and foreign threats to this nation. That is why it is investigating Russian efforts to meddle in our election. Let’s set aside the galling hypocrisy of Mr. Birther complaining about made up “fake news.” The notion that the Committee charged with oversight of this nation’s intelligence apparatus should investigate our free press should cause any patriotic American to respond with Paul Revere level alarm.
The notion that the Committee charged with oversight of this nation’s intelligence apparatus should investigate our free press should cause any patriotic American to respond with Paul Revere level alarm.
The President’s recent calls for government action in response to acts protected by the 1st Amendment do not stop with his efforts to intimidate the free press. It now extends to the President seeking to use the tax code to punish protected speech he deems offensive.
At war with the NFL and its players who kneel during the National Anthem, the President has called for the tax code to be altered to punish the NFL for not compelling players to stand.
A President who can use the tax code to compel people to not kneel can also use it to compel people to kneel to him. Changing the tax code to penalize people for speech the President deems offensive is an incredible attack on the 1st Amendment. Using the coercion of eliminating tax breaks for the NFL for players’ free exercise of speech is a much shorter distance to eliminating a person’s mortgage interest deduction for insulting the President than people realize.
A President who can use the tax code to compel people to not kneel can also use it to compel people to kneel to him.
The President’s rhetoric has moved beyond taunts and vulgar insults like calling NFL players “sons of bitches” or talking about a reporter bleeding out of her “whatever.” The President is now calling for governmental action, for government investigations and changes in policy against the media and citizens exercising free speech and media rights. That is a sea change every American should view with fear. The President is no longer merely being insulting, he is threatening the most basic rights of this nation, rights necessary to any functioning Democracy.