Politics

Priebus: Trump 'Looked At' Changing Libel Laws

| by Ray Brown

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said President Donald Trump has considered taking action to change the country's libel laws.

"I think it's something that we've looked at," Priebus told ABC News in an interview that aired on April 30. "How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story."

Priebus also said the media needs "to be more responsible with how they report the news."

Trump singled out The New York Times as a publication that he has accused of libel.

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"The failing [New York Times] has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?" Trump tweeted on March 30.

"The paper's getting smaller and smaller. Did you ever notice? It's starting to look like a comic book," Trump said, according to Fox News.

Even Trump supporters were dismayed by the president's apparent disregard for free speech.

"I confess, as a First Amendment freak, that does bother me a bit," said Trump supporter and CNN analyst Jeffrey Lord on May 1, according to Mediaite.

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Trump has often complained about unfavorable media attention.

Free speech granted under the First Amendment has been questioned in recent months, including protests against unpopular speakers, usually of a right-wing political persuasion, at public universities.

For example, conservative author Ann Coulter was invited to speak at the University of California in Berkeley by a conservative campus group. However, the school's administration stifled her speech out of fear that her presence could lead to protests and violence, which was the case when previous right-wing personalities were invited to the famously-liberal school, according to CNN.

"I don't like the fact [Coulter's speech] was canceled because at the end of the day, just because she's a Republican or has views most students disagree with doesn't mean her views aren't valid," said Harmanjit Sodhi, a 20-year-old UC Berkeley junior studying molecular and cellular biology.

"Everybody's speaking, and nobody's listening," said junior Guutaa Regassa. "These are ideas, but we're also human beings. I think people attack the human being when they need to attack the idea."

Before becoming president, Trump sued an investigative journalist for publishing a book that questioned his wealth and said his net worth was far less than $1 billion, according to The Independent.

"There are those that say the value of the brand is very, very valuable," Trump said during a 2007 deposition. "My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feeling."

Sources: ABC News, Mediaite, Fox News, CNN, The Independent / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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