Larry Flynt | Free Speech Activist

"If you're not going to offend somebody, you don't need the First Amendment."

- Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt

From HUSTLER Magazine

Trump vs. The Free Press

If there is one single thing that defines the American tradition and the success of our nation, it has to be the First Amendment, with its guarantee of free speech and freedom of the press. Thomas Jefferson expressed it best: “And were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” That’s because powerful people in both government and the private sector are always doing end runs around the law. The temptation to cut corners, abuse power and commit fraud is almost irresistible at the top of the food chain. And it’s just too easy to get away with it—unless you have dependable journalists who shine light into the shadows and hold the bastards accountable. That’s why dictators hate the press, and honest reporters are always their first victims—jailed, expelled or murdered.

Many American Presidents have been hostile to the free press. Nixon was notoriously bad; his band of “plumbers” even considered assassinating famed journalist Jack Anderson. But Donald Trump takes this hostility to a whole new level.

When NBC News reported that the President, in a meeting with his heads of security, said he wanted a tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal—equal to what we had back in the 1960s—Trump blew a gasket, tweeting, “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” Trump’s own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, allegedly called him a “fucking moron” after that meeting ended. He hit the nail on the head.

First, there is no such thing as licenses for broadcasting networks— the FCC issues licenses only to individual stations. Second, Trump didn’t exactly say “tenfold increase,” but that’s what ramping up our nuclear arsenal to ’60s level would require. And third, the whole idea of shutting down a news organization for reporting the inconvenient truth is the mark of a banana republic autocrat, not an American President.

If the press publishes erroneous information with malicious intent, we have libel and defamation laws to deal with that. But for public figures the standard is much looser. In the bad old days of colonial America and King George’s England, reporters could be prosecuted and jailed for defamation or blasphemy, even if the reporting was absolutely true! This all changed in 1964 with the landmark Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan, where the justices declared that “debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

Got that, Donald? As Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” We at HUSTLER are doing everything possible to evict this dangerous moron from the kitchen and the whole White House before he burns the place down and destroys over 200 years of Constitutional government. And we ask you to help us—write your Congress critters and newspapers and express your outrage. The more noise we all make, the better.

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