22 November 2016
Trump's Golden Rule
If the news media seemed excessively hostile toward Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, that certainly had something to do with his threat to "open up the libel laws" in a way inferred to threaten freedom of expression and dissent. Now that the election is over, and after some contentious negotiation, the President-elect called on The New York Times today and pretty much signaled that they and other media powers had nothing to worry about, at least on the libel front. His explanation was priceless: somebody told him, "You know, YOU might be sued a lot more." Trump: "You know, I hadn't thought of that." I suppose he might convince himself that the President can't be sued for libel, just as -- so he told the Times -- the President is incapable of conflicts of interests. But why take chances? Similar thinking may explain why he's walking back from his vow to prosecute Hillary Clinton. I've already heard evidence that Trump has angered some supporters by not sticking to what they considered a serious campaign promise. It'll be interesting to see whether he rethinks his new position. He may feel that going after Clinton will further divide the country when he wants to unite it, but people who voted for him probably feel that the country could not be more divided than it was this year, and the last thing they want to see so soon is President Trump on the other side of the divide from themselves.