There is clearly something in the swamp water in Florida that makes its Republican politicians emulate the anti-American derangement of one another. That would account for how Ron DeSantis, while ostensibly preparing to challenge Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination for president is, instead, turning into an even more extreme copy of the twice impeached, former reality TV game show host.
Politico is reporting that the majority Republican Florida legislature is drafting a bill that would severely threaten the free press were it to be found constitutional – which it surely would not be if the Supreme Court were occupied by fair-minded Justices. To be sure there are some serious problems with the media as witnessed by the lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News.
However, the reforms sought by DeSantis are dangerously oppressive and intended only to intimidate journalists and silence his critics. According to Politico…
“At the governor’s urging, Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature is pushing to weaken state laws that have long protected journalists against defamation suits and frivolous lawsuits. The proposal is part [of] DeSantis’ ongoing feud with media outlets like The New York Times, Miami Herald, CNN and The Washington Post — media companies he claims are biased against Republicans — as he prepares for a likely 2024 presidential bid.
“Beyond making it easier to sue journalists, the proposal is also being positioned to spark a larger legal battle with the goal of eventually overturning New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limits public officials’ ability to sue publishers for defamation.”
The DeSantis proposal would make it easier to sue media for defamation. It would also remove journalists’ protection from having to reveal confidential sources, and mandate by law that such reported comments are presumed false in court proceedings. These reforms are contrary to the Constitution and 250 years of legal precedents. They would have a chilling effect on the press and discourage honest reporting.
That discouragement is, of course, precisely the goal of DeSantis. He has assumed the identical position of Trump – and their authoritarian heroes like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Xi Jinping – with regard to suppressing the media. Politico notes that DeSantis has been “refusing to conduct interviews with platforms except Fox News.” That was the same strategy employed by Trump for most his campaigns and presidency. Although lately Trump has taken to even attacking his Ministry of Propaganda, Fox News.
However, DeSantis is actually taking this unconstitutional obsession even farther than Trump by committing it to law. Trump often threatened to do so, but never followed through. In January of 2018 Trump whined that…
“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness. So we’re gonna take a strong look at that.”
Perhaps the reason that Trump chickened out was because he would have opened a can of worms that would have devoured him. No one has exposed himself to more potential libel allegations than Trump. Every time he calls a reporter a liar, or asserts as fact that unnamed sources don’t exist, or alleges that a story was deliberately made up, or unleashes one of his infantile and insulting nicknames on a reporter, Trump is slandering those reporters and harming their reputations and careers.
Someone may have warned Trump to be careful what he wishes for. After all, there have been literally thousands of comments and tweets by Trump that were demonstrably false, but manifestly injured their targets. For instance, what about the sixteen women who have spoken out about Trump’s sexual abuse? He called every one of them liars? One of them, E. Jean Carroll, is currently suing him for defamation.
If DeSantis were smart (doubtful), he would abandon these ill-considered reforms. They are only likely to backfire on him. There are already plenty of safeguards in current law that protect people from deliberate slander and libel. Even if committed by the media. Just ask Dominion Voting Systems.
That, however, isn’t sufficient for Republican press haters who are more interested in censorship than freedom. Consequently, politicians like Trump and DeSantis, who are afraid of a free press, are seeking to shut it down. Trump has already gone to great lengths to do so, and in the process proved that current laws are more than adequate.
- Trump Threatens to Sue Pulitzers Over ‘Russia Hoax’ and for Not Giving Awards to Sean Hannity
- After Goofy Lawsuit Against CNN, Trump Threatens More Suits, Including the January 6th Committee
- Trump Attorney Announces Laughable Lawsuit Against CNN for Accurately Calling Trump a Liar
- Trump’s Loopy Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton and ‘Her Cohorts’ Reads Like Sleazy Pulp Fiction (Dismissed)
And check out my books on Amazon:
Thanks so much for your support.