During a press conference Friday, Donald Trump declared that as president he will “open up libel laws” to make it easier to sue people in the media. In particular he signed out the New York Times. “If I become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re gonna have such problems,” Trump said.
“And one of the things I’m going to do, and this is only going to make it tougher for me, and I’ve never said this before, but one of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope I do, and we’re certainly leading — is I’m going to open up the libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and negative and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.
We’re going to open up those libel laws. So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace, or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.
You see? With me they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people, but I’m not taking money. I’m not taking their money. So we can open up those libel laws, folks, and we’ll have people sue you like you never got sued before.”
KTLA reports that no federal libel law currently exists, because libel suits are handled in state courts:
“Since 1964, when the Supreme Court ruled on ‘New York Times vs. Sullivan,’ public individuals who wish to sue media companies for libel are required to prove that the news organization knowingly published false information with malicious intent.
The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in 2012 that he “abhors” the ruling, saying it gives news organizations the freedom to “libel public figures at will so long as somebody told you something.”
Trump, who frequently belittles the media as “dishonest scum,” has accused several news outlets and journalists of lying about him. He would likely have a long line of people to sue, from Fox News host Megyn Kelly to NBC’s Katy Tur to radio host Hugh Hewitt.