Trump: Journalists Have Too Many First Amendment Protections

by Kevin Daley

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled-down on a campaign pledge to recalibrate libel laws to make it easier for public figures to sue the press for allegedly defamatory or disparaging reportage.

Trump told Jim DeFede of Miami’s CBS affiliate that he supports applying slander and libel standards codified in the United Kingdom in the United States. Trump said:

Well, in England, they have a system where you can actually sue if someone says something wrong. Our press is allowed to say whatever they want and they can get away with it. And I think we should go to a system where if they do something wrong — I’m a big believer, tremendous believer of the freedom of the press. Nobody believes it stronger than me — but if they make terrible, terrible mistakes and those mistakes are made on purpose to injure people — and I’m not just talking about me, I’m talking anybody else — then yes, I think you should have the ability to sue them. 

DeFede then asked Trump if he our libel laws should correspond with those of the UK.

Well, in England, you have a good chance of winning. If they — and deals are made and apologies are made — over here they don’t have to apologize. They can say anything they want about you and me and there doesn’t have to be an apology. England has a system where, if they are wrong, things happen.

British standards for libel are much more relaxed compared to the United States. British law places the burden of proof on the accused as opposed to the accuser in libel cases. In addition, while an aggrieved party must demonstrate that a libelous statement is both false and malicious in its intent, in Britain, one only must prove that a statement was false. (RELATED: Journos Troll Trump With Dubious Knowledge Of Bush v. Gore)

British libel law is so relaxed that it gives rise to a phenomenon scholars call “libel tourism” in which foreign nationals will find ways to bring libel claims in British courts, on the assumption that they would have an easier time winning a suit in Britain than in their own country.

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