March 23, 2016

A very long post about what Donald Trump said about libel in his interview with the Washington Post editorial board.

Here's the transcript of the interview. As I said in the previous post, I'm engaging with the libel section of the interview line by line. The engagement went long, and what was originally the end of that post got so out of proportion that I had to break it out. This might be the longest post I've ever done, and I guarantee you that my comments were what I thought as I read each section, so you see my reaction as it developed in real time.

Let's begin:

FREDERICK RYAN JR., WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHER: Mr. Trump, you’ve mentioned many times during the campaign, in fact including this morning, instances you feel where the press has been biased or unfair or outright false in their reporting, and you’ve mentioned that you want to “open up” the libel laws. You’ve said that several times.

TRUMP: I might not have to, based on Gawker. Right?... That was an amazing—
Right there, Trump is trying to take control of the interview. He wants to talk entertainment style and work his way around to some policy. This is the way Rush Limbaugh proceeds, and it's what I do as a blogger. It feels right to warm up and have some fun talking about something that happened in the news — something with a colorful celebrity — to get the mind's currents flowing, and see where that takes you. For example, I'm pretty far from where I began this post, and I really don't know where I'm going.
RYAN: My question is not so much why you feel they should be open but how. What presidential powers and executive actions would you take to open up the libel laws?
Ryan is operating in a different mode, focusing on a legal issue, demanding precision. I understand this mode too. It's close to what I'd do as a law professor. You know, sometimes students want to say how they "feel" about an issue, and I've got to interrupt — I get criticized for interrupting — and make it into something that works for classroom purposes.
TRUMP: Okay, look, I’ve had stories written about me – by your newspaper and by others – that are so false, that are written with such hatred – I’m not a bad person. I’m just doing my thing....
I’m not a bad person. I’m just doing my thing.... great Trump quote. Great quote for... everybody. Try it at home, kids. Let me know how it works out.
... I’m, you know, running, I want to do something that’s good. It’s not an easy thing to do. I had a nice life until I did this, you know. 
Wow. Is this ever stream-of-consciousness! He wants us to come inside his psyche, feel how it feels to him. It's kind of exciting, transgressive...
This is a very difficult thing to do. In fact I’ve always heard that if you’re a very successful person you can’t run for office. And I can understand that. You’ll do a hundred deals, and you’ll do one bad one or two bad ones — that’s all they read about are the bad ones. They don’t read about the one hundred and fifty great ones that you had. And even some of the ones they write that are good, they make them sound bad. 
This isn't a problem of libel. This is a problem of balance. Professional journalism should be balanced, but news tends to be about the things that go wrong, even when the newspapers are neutral. But there's no requirement that a newspaper be politically neutral. It can concentrate on the misdoings of the characters it opposes politically. There's no legal remedy for that in America.
You know, so I’ve always heard that. I’ve heard that if you’re successful – very successful – you just can’t run for—
Finally, Ryan interrupts:
RYAN: But how would you fix that? You’ve said that you would open up the libel laws.

TRUMP: What I would do, what I would do is I’d – well right now the libel laws, I mean I must tell you....
I love the way he starts to answer the question then throws in one of his idiosyncratic segues — "I mean I must tell you" — and clicks back into entertainment mode.
... that the Hulk Hogan thing was a tremendous shock to me because – not only the amount and the fact that he had the victory — because for the most part I think libel laws almost don’t exist in this country, you know, based on, based on everything I’ve seen and watched and everything else....
You know, based on, based on everything I’ve seen and watched and everything else.... Next time someone asks you how you know something, try that line. It sounds like the way I talked when I was a teenager and my father engaged me in discussions about politics. Let's just say he had a lot of follow up questions that I thought were unfair and exasperating.
... and I just think that if a paper writes something wrong — media, when I say paper I’m talking about media. I think that they can do a retraction if they’re wrong. They should at least try to get it right. 
Okay, that's very sensible. Working things out without using the legal system. And that's limited to when the media are actually wrong. 
And if they don’t do a retraction, they should, they should you know have a form of a trial. 
If "wrong" means factually wrong, there's nothing bad about that statement. (It's another matter if by "wrong," he means not balancing the one bad thing he did with the 100 good things he's done.)
I don’t want to impede free press, by the way. The last thing I would want to do is that. But I mean I can only speak for – I probably get more – do I, I mean, you would know, do I get more publicity than any human being on the earth? Okay? I mean, [Editor’s note: Trump points at Ruth Marcus] she kills me, this one – that’s okay, nice woman.
What was Ruth Marcus doing? Calling her out —for what? making a face at his chaotic evasions of Ryan's question? — feels like one of a huge set of little strategies for getting control of the conversation. I'm sure I'd be making a face listening for an answer and trying to tolerate overstated generalities ("I don’t want to impede free press"), reappearances of filler phrases that have begun to feel like some kind of joke ("by the way"), superlatives about himself ("I get more publicity than any human being"), and hokey verbosity ("on the earth" (Why not lay it on thicker, Lou Gehrig-style and say "on the face of the earth"?)).
RYAN: Would you expand, for example, prior restraints against publications?

TRUMP: No....
All right then, good.
I would just say this. All I want is fairness. So unfair. 
Well, that's just criticism. You criticize back. More speech. That's the law's answer. 
I have stories and you have no recourse, you have no recourse whatsoever because the laws are really impotent.
No, the laws are potent. They're just potent on the side of free speech. What part of that would you change?
MARCUS: So in a better world would you be able to sue me?

TRUMP: In a better world — no — in a better world I would be able to get a retraction or a correction. Not even a retraction, a correction.
Okay, then, back to the private resolution of the matter. But I suppose he means he wants to have the potential to bring the lawsuit because it put pressure behind his demand for a correction.
RYAN: Well, now, you’ve been a plaintiff in libel suits so you know a little bit of the elements …

TRUMP: I had one basic big libel suit, it was a very bad system, it was New Jersey. I had a great judge, the first one, and I was going to win it. And then I had another good judge, the second one, and then they kept switching judges. And the third one was a bad judge. That’s what happened. But, uh…
Ugh. Ryan asked about the elements a plaintiff must prove in a libel case. He's blabbing about the judges, dissing New Jersey. Again, he's defusing the tension, going off in all directions. He's not a straight talker. His seeming bluntness may make it harder to see how frustratingly evasive he is. Imagine having a President like this. I know, they all evade, they all try to control the conversation. But he's got a strange new way of befuddling us. Our defenses are weak.
RYAN: But there’s standards like malice is required. Would you weaken that? Would you require less than malice for news organizations?

TRUMP: I would make it so that when someone writes incorrectly, yeah, I think I would get a little bit away from malice without having to get too totally away
That's the key statement, what I've put in bold. It's crazily vague. The "malice" a public figure must show in a libel case is that the defendant either knew or had a "reckless disregard" for whether the statement was false. What "little bit" away from that would Trump get? The right follow up question is: Do you mean you'd replace "reckless disregard" with a negligence standard? But there's no interruption here. Trump is allowed to ramble on:
Look, I think many of the stories about me are written badly. I don’t know if it’s malice because the people don’t know me. 
I suspect he's using "malice" not in the legal sense, but in the layperson's sense of whether there's ill will or personal antagonism. But no one stops him and catches him on this seeming ignorance. How could he not know the legal standard when he's had lawsuits and he's making an issue of them? Maybe he's reaching out to ignorant people — he loves the poorly educated — trying to bond with them.
When Charles writes about me or when Ruth writes about me, you know, we’ve never really met. And I get these stories and they’re so angry and I actually say, I actually say, “How could they write?” – and many stories I must tell you, many stories are written that with a brief phone call could be corrected before they’re written. Nobody calls me.
Some of that sounds as though he's complaining about how mean they are, as if that's what "malice" means, and some of that seems to go back to what might be his main idea, which stands apart from the legal system, that good journalists interact fairly with the person they're writing about.
STEPHEN STROMBERG, EDITORIAL WRITER: How are you defining “incorrect?” It seems like you’re defining it as fairness or your view of fairness rather than accuracy.
Good question. That's pinning him down in a way that I've been talking about.
TRUMP: Fairness, fairness is, you know, part of the word. 
Is that mistranscribed? "Part of the word"? Maybe he stopped in the middle of saying something. Trump does say "fairness" a lot. I wonder what he thinks of the old "Fairness Doctrine," which imposed some balance requirements on broadcasters (but not newspapers).
But you know, I’ve had stories that are written that are absolutely incorrect. I’ll tell you now and the word “intent”, as you know, is an important word, as you know, in libel. 
No, I don't know. It sounds as though he's stuck on the wrong idea of what "malice" means. Who wants trials about whether some reporter hates a politician?
I’ll give you an example. 
The example is very long, describing something we already know about. Keep an eye out for what's "absolutely incorrect" and what has something to do with "intent," and don't forget that the question was whether he's talking about fairness or factual mistakes:
Some of the media, not all of it, but some of it, is very, very strong on – you know I get these massive crowds of people, and we’ll get protesters. And these protesters are honestly, they’re very bad people. In many cases, they’re professionals. Highly trained professionals. And I will rent an arena for 20,000 seats and they will come in – because there’s really no way – how you going to be able to tell – somebody said “oh you shouldn’t let ‘em in” – how you gonna know, you know? They walk in. [Inaudible] So we had an incident this weekend, which was amazing in Tucson, Arizona where a man, a protestor, wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit, another one dragging an American flag, was walking out of the arena, and an African American man who was a supporter was sitting there listening to the speech and we had to stop because they were so loud – they’re so loud, these people, I don’t know what they do, they’re trained voices or something.
Probably opera singers.
And they’re walking up and you saw it, because it was all over television, and the African American man became incensed I think the guy said something to him like you know what, like “screw you,” okay? Or worse. I think, because he looked over to him and said something to him and the guy just had it. Now, they were together, these two. The one wearing a Ku Klux Klan, the other dragging a flag or something, but the African American man, who I think was an Air Force person, I just read he had a pretty stellar life so far. And he just became incensed. So when I saw the television yesterday early in the morning I saw the Ku Klux Klan, I saw exactly what happened. By the time it got on to the national shows that was for the most part taken out. They just had this African American smacking, you know, fighting. And it didn’t make sense, you know, why, why. But if you saw it in the morning it made a lot more sense. We don’t condone violence at all but it’s very, very unfair reporting and we, you know…
So I guess the example means that the media chose the context and, without making factual mistakes, showed the part of the facts that fit their point of view. In the example, the point of view is that Trump supporters are inclined to violence. That's what Trump presented as "absolutely incorrect" — video, edited to take out the context that would explain an action that (obviously) really happened.
FRED HIATT, WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Sorry, when you say we don’t condone violence —
Hiatt is changing the subject. Trump put distracting material in his long ramble, and maybe Hiatt lost the thread or maybe he was ready to move on. It is a favorite topic — Trump incites violence — and Trump gave him the opening. For Trump, it's an opportunity to get out of a jam — bullshitting around the First Amendment — and I'm willing to believe Trump threw out bait deliberately to get somebody to do exactly what Hiatt did.
TRUMP: I say that.

HIATT: You say that. But you’ve also said, “In the good old days, he would have been ripped out of his seat so fast, you wouldn’t believe it.” Isn’t that condoning violence?
Now, we've moved on to a completely different incident.
TRUMP: No, because what I am referring to is, we’ve had some very bad people come in. We had one guy — and I said it — he had the voice — and this was what I was referring to — and I said, “Boy, I’d like to smash him.” You know, I said that. I’d like to punch him. This guy was unbelievably loud. He had a voice like Pavarotti.
Ha ha. The hint that made me think "opera singer" paid off. That really is very entertaining.
I said if I was his manager I would have made a lot of money for him, because he had the best voice. I mean, the guy was unbelievable, how loud he was. And he was a swinger. He was hitting people. He was punching and swinging and screaming — you couldn’t make — so you have to stop. You know, there is also something about the First Amendment...
Whoa! The First Amendment came back. We'd almost forgotten it. Here, he's making the concession that the protesters have some First Amendment rights. This isn't about libel. Will we ever get back to libel?
...but you had to stop. And, so, this one man was very violent and very loud. And when he was being taken out, he walked out like this, with his finger way up, like, “screw everybody.” And that’s when I made that statement. He was absolutely out — I mean, he hit people and he screamed and then he was walking out and he’s giving everybody the finger. And they don’t talk about that. See, they don’t talk about that. They say, “Donald, wait a second, Donald, don’t” —

HIATT: But your answer is you condone violence when the guy is really egregious and terrible?

TRUMP: No, I condone strong law and order. I’ll tell you what they —

HIATT: Rip him out of his seat, punch him in the face, isn’t that violent?

TRUMP: Well he punched other people.

HIATT: No, I understand that.

TRUMP: Fred, he punched other people. He was punching people. He was — one guy was, you know, I’d like to say —
This goes on for quite a while, so let's skip forward, because, I see, they do eventually get back to libel:
HIATT: But just – given the Supreme Court rulings on libel — Sullivan v. New York Times — how would you change the law?

TRUMP: I would just loosen them up.
Just loosen them up?!! Give the law a few drinks. Tell a few jokes. Maybe a shoulder rub.
RUTH MARCUS: What does that mean?

[Crosstalk]

TRUMP: I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you, but I would loosen them up. I would loosen them up. 
Ridiculous. Bring the lawyers in. He's done talking about the part he wants to talk about. Get the lawyers on this.
If The Washington Post writes badly about me – and they do, they don’t write good – I mean, I don’t think I get – I read some of the stories coming up here, and I said to my staff, I said, “Why are we even wasting our time? The hatred is so enormous.” I don’t know why. I mean, I do a good job. I have thousands of employees. I work hard.
He brought up law, but he's not prepared or even interested in talking about law. And he falls back into repetitious whining. He doesn't like being criticized. He doesn't like when they make him look bad and don't show all the goods things he's done.
I’m not looking for bad for our country. I’m a very rational person, I’m a very sane person. I’m not looking for bad. But I read articles by you, and others. And, you know, we’ve never – we don’t know each other, and the level of hatred is so incredible, I actually said, “Why am I – why am I doing this? Why am I even here?” And I don’t expect anything to happen–
This is sounding like a late stage in a marital argument: Why am I doing this? Why am I even here?

It's a late stage of an overlong blog post. Why am I doing this? Why am I even here?

It's so inappropriately emotional. Free speech law is serious and important, and here's a man whose only way to talk about it is to plead with us to care about his feelings. It's not about your feelings. You're running for President. You need to get some objectivity and some respect for the law and for what government is.
RYAN: Would that be the standard then? If there is an article that you feel has hatred, or is bad, would that be the basis for libel?
Key words: "you feel." Obviously, he'd be a fool to accept that, and he has the sense not to:
TRUMP: No, if it’s wrong. If it’s wrong.

RYAN: Wrong whether there’s malice or not?
If the answer to Ryan's question were "yes," then Trump would be saying he wants New York Times v. Sullivan — the bulwark of freedom of speech — overruled. But Trump doesn't give a yes-or-no answer. He goes back to his personal emotional angst (even though he did say "no" to the question whether it's about his feelings):
TRUMP: I mean, The Washington Post never calls me. I never had a call, “Why – why did you do this?” or “Why did you do that?” It’s just, you know, like I’m this horrible human being. 
Late stage marital argument: It’s just, you know, like I’m this horrible human being.
And I’m not. You know, the one thing we have in common I think we all love the country. Now, maybe we come at it from different sides, but nobody ever calls me. I mean, Bob Costa calls about a political story – he called because we’re meeting senators in a little while and congressmen, supporters – but nobody ever calls.
I had to look up who Bob Costa is. I was thinking Bob Costas. Another distraction. (Poor Bob Costa! Is Bob Costa "nobody"?)
RYAN: The reason I keep asking this is because you’ve said three times you’ve said we are going to open up the libel laws and when we ask you what you mean you say hatred, or bad–
This is the last attempt to pry a straight answer out of him. And here's the last nonanswer:
TRUMP: I want to make it more fair from the side where I am, because things are said that are libelous, things are said about me that are so egregious and so wrong, and right now according to the libel laws I can do almost nothing about it because I’m a well-known person you know, etc., etc.
Yeah, that's New York Times v. Sullivan, blocking you from suing because you're a public figure — indeed, you're the most public figure on the face of the earth — unless you can show that the publisher knew it was false or showed a reckless disregard for whether it was false. What is it about that law do you want to "loosen up" and get "a little bit away from"?

Trump won't say, he can't say, perhaps because he realizes he actually shouldn't have said he wanted to change the law, but he never goes back once he's said something. Or maybe it's because he's a man who has long had lots of lawyers jumping to his service, and the way that's always worked is: He figures out where he wants to go, and then the lawyers get on the job and figure out how to get there.

Why would you ask him how to get anywhere? He's the source of the desire to get there.

69 comments:

buwaya said...

"Why would you ask him how to get anywhere? He's the source of the desire to get there."

That's the core and root of leadership. Over many, many many projects over way too many years, I've figured the fundamental requirement for a project manager is the drive, the fire, the fanatical will. I have seen personality overcome errors and setbacks, and technically capable people fail in absurdly simple things because their hearts weren't in it.

Nyamujal said...

Perhaps you should provide a tl:dr for Trump fans.

Matt said...

If libel laws were applied in the U.S. like Trump wants them to then Obama and Bush and, well every politician and celebrity, would potentially be in court for years. What this comes down to is 1) Trump wants to turn back First Amendment case law 50 years or so [as well as some Supreme Court cases] and 2) He wants the press to love him and say only nice things because he is apparently doing so many 'nice things'. It's self-serving. Trump wants to change American law to protect his thin skin.

Patrick said...

It is hilarious how they are asking Donald Trump about libel law like they are the Supreme Court and he's Ted Olson. Funny!

Chuck said...

"Ridiculous." Yes, Professor Althouse, I think you've picked out the correct adjective. I all along thought you'd reach that conclusion.

About Ruth Marcus and Bob Costa; it seems to me (and this is interesting and worth more discussion) that Trump is a voracious consumer of television news and talk. You see, Ruth Marcus is a commentator (CBS News, mostly) and so is Robert Costa (NBC, mostly) in addition to their roles as WaPo columnists. And I honestly think that when Trump talks about them extemporaneously in this fashion, Trump is actually recalling all of the things that he has heard them say about him on their tv appearances. I also expect that Trump reads the Times, and WaPo, and that Trump now only occasionally reads the Journal, because it is so highly critical of him. If they gave out graduate degrees in television-watching, Trump would have had an MBA from Wharton, and he'd be working on a Ph.D.

Chuck said...

That last post didn't turn out as I'd like it.

I want to extend real, sincere appreciation to Professor Althouse for this extended analysis. I like reading how her mind works. I am grateful to her for her time on this, and for sharing her thoughts.

Hagar said...

I am not sure Trump and AA's Venn diagrams overlap much
Trump is just throwing up some chaff to divert incoming flak; he has no intention of getting involved in a futile effort to change the libel laws. Not even of bothering to study what they actually are.

Brando said...

"Trump is just throwing up some chaff to divert incoming flak; he has no intention of getting involved in a futile effort to change the libel laws. Not even of bothering to study what they actually are."

That's the MO--toss out a bunch of nonsense, get a lot of attention, back down while insisting you never said what you had just said previously, repeat. It'll be an interesting general election campaign.

Alexander said...

Professional journalism should be balanced, but news tends to be about the things that go wrong, even when the newspapers are neutral.

I'll have to take your word for it, as I don't know how hypothetical newspapers would or wouldn't act.


But there's no requirement that a newspaper be politically neutral.

Convenient, that, that the Fairness Doctrine and Equal-time rule neatly side-stepped the established media power at the time of their creation. It's like the rule was so good, it shouldn't apply to them! Like Unions and Obamacare, or Government officials and intern wages.

There's no legal remedy for that in America.

A line the establishment wants to apply to more and more of my life.

Being a charitable soul, a word of advice to my opponents: for those who really, really want to derail the Trump train: if the mouthpiece of the attempted derailment ends in Post or Times or Journal or Chronicle, etc. etc., the hit piece has failed before it's hit reddit.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Cracker Emcee said...

"I am not sure Trump and AA's Venn diagrams overlap much
Trump is just throwing up some chaff to divert incoming flak; he has no intention of getting involved in a futile effort to change the libel laws. Not even of bothering to study what they actually are."

Exactly. It's weird to see the people that damn him for his fondness for hyperbole treat his every random comment as if it was a God-sworn oath. Partisan and perspective seem to be mutually exclusive.

Lyssa said...

Would a president Trump use NYT v. Sullivan as a litmus test in picking judges? This is a major concern of mine, and I was hoping that this would shed more light on that, but I'm still not sure. I'm still struggling to decide which, between Clinton and Trump (including considerations of how Trump will impact Congress and the Republican party going forward, and the Court) is the least bad option. It is not a feel-good exercise.

Amanda said...

Not everyone's "defenses are weak". Some of us have seen this man for what he is from day one. His magical powers of persuasion and manipulation are lost on us. This very long exchange between Trump and Ryan illustrates just one of many reasons why Trump is not Presidential material. I'd suggest that easily manipulated people put on their tin foil hats when speaking to Trump, maybe it'll stop them from being so easily distracted. The man does "oh look, squirrel!" better than most, a true talent. Now how about we stop chasing squirrels and get to the nuts and bolts in Trump's head.

Chuck said...

One other observation about your lengthy post, Professor Althouse (and again I extend thanks and appreciation).

Let's remember that the WaPo interview wasn't the first public discussion with Trump on this subject. It has come up before, numerous times; it has been the subject of highly critical commentary, and there is no way that Trump could claim that he was caught off-guard with an unfair technical inquiry. Like, being asked on the fly who is the President or Prime Minister of Belgium and if there is a difference between the two offices.

This is Trump's issue. Trump's issue, alone. Trump raised it. No one forced it on him; no opposing candidate pressed him on it for any advantage. And it comes up within recent memory of Trump's own litigation in another libel case. Dubious, if not ridiculous litigation, which could well cause the public to doubt Trump's personal judgment.

After this many weeks of the issue simmering in media circles (and as we all know, Trump is exquisitely focused on the media and his presentation and image within the media), Trump ought to have formulated an answer or two.

He has nothing, apparently. Nothing but the bizarre back-and-forth with the WaPo columnists. It ought to cause anyone some very serious concern about Trump.

Michael said...

The Cracker Emcee

I agree. I am afraid that Progs have not troubled to read The Art of The Deal or were not in class when hyperbole was discussed.

FullMoon said...

Ruth Marcus, a "nice woman?" Donald Trump apparently hit on her also.

traditionalguy said...

Trump is just being "unpredictable." That is how he rolls.

He needs some way to hit back at opponents making up reports that are factually mini Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

He needs to stick to the traditional use of FBI dirt and threats of tax audits and not mess with the media's freedom.

I know, he should start Trump News Network and hire the sharp campaign spokespersons now tearing up CNN, FOX and MSNBC panels. And one show can include Diamond and Silk , The Stump for Trump sister act. They would beat Megyn Kelly easily.

Humboldt's Dog said...

The first clue that he's a functional moron is that he thinks Hulk Hogan sued Gawker for libel.

Fabi said...

What is the macro issue here? If Trump is elected, is there anything he can do to implement the changes he may want -- other than the nomination of justices who may share his viewpoint? He can't issue an executive order or action regarding this, correct?

Chuck said...

Fabi said...
What is the macro issue here? If Trump is elected, is there anything he can do to implement the changes he may want -- other than the nomination of justices who may share his viewpoint? He can't issue an executive order or action regarding this, correct?


What a great question to put to Mr. Trump!

I might phrase it differently: "What the fuck are you talking about, you crazy, ignorant Manhattan blowhard?"

FullMoon said...

Trump is the master of a well known technique: If you cannot dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.
Sincerely hope he has a competent staff of advisors after he is elected.

RichardS said...

Very interesting post. Excellent analysis of Trump. He is frustratingly vague. I read him as a Tammany Democrat--always a deal to be made, regardless of what the law says, strictly speaking. Isn't that the world in which he was raised?
That said, I wonder if your statement that "New York Times v. Sullivan — the bulwark of freedom of speech" goes a bit too far. Was there no free speech before Times v Sullivan? Or was that the standard, even if the Supreme Court had yet to make it explicit in their case law?
P.S. It looks like, as a matter of history, the free speech doctrines that became dominant in the second half of the twentieth century in the U.S. are about to be changed, thanks to the continually living constitution. I will lament the change, but I suspect that that is how things will shake out.

Fabi said...

Thanks, Chuck! I assume those are his only options in this regard, but am curious if I am missing an available avenue.

tim maguire said...

The "malice" a public figure must show in a libel case is that the defendant either knew or had a "reckless disregard" for whether the statement was false. What "little bit" away from that would Trump get?

Sitting here in my living room thinking about it, I remember Harry Reid standing in the well of the Senate saying, "Mitt Romney cheated on his taxes for 10 years." The law shouldn't protect a sleazeball like Harry Reid deliberately making stuff up to try to cheat the American people out of a fair election. The "little bit" I'd like to see is the law stepping back from reckless disregard in favor of the reasonable person standard--knew or should have known. That's enough protection. I don't see much value in jacking the standard all the way up to reckless disregard. It's not enough that Harry Reid wasn't reckless; after all, Mitt MIGHT have been cheating on his taxes. To be protected from a libel suit, he should have had some evidence, no matter how flimsy, that his claim was true.

Rob said...

It's a very troubling interview. Trump reveals himself to be even dumber, less analytical, more scatter-brained than we thought--and we thought he was deficient in all those respects. The man seems incapable of focusing on a question--or a problem--and responding to it. Plenty of not-very-smart people have been president, but it's hard to think of anybody whose thinking was quite this disorganized, with the possible exception of Reagan who at least had strong staff below him. Reagan's guys ran the government, whereas Trump will be satisfied with nothing less than toadies who are obliged to obey his nearly incomprehensible line of thinking.

I admit to being a bit of an intellectual snob, but it's perhaps instructive that Fred's money couldn't get Donald into a good prep school (he went instead to New York Military Academy) or a good college (he matriculated at Fordham). Trump loves to talk about having gone to Penn, where he transferred for his junior and senior years after the Wharton School added a real estate program (Fred's money finally paid off). Mort Sahl used to describe local broadcasters as a thirty-five dollar haircut on a fifteen-cent head. That's Donald Trump, except for the haircut.

Kate said...

This is why Trump is ahead. Regular Americans watch the press/media pick winners and losers, then skew their reporting accordingly. It's deeply unfair, and Americans are a people who value fairness. Trump can't argue for legal recourse because none can exist without the 1st Amendment getting ripped apart, which no one wants. But the unfairness of the elite media burns. Their casual disregard for balance burns. Their shaping of public opinion through their power and choices burns. Trump is our finger in their eye. It's not about changing the law; we all know that can't happen. But, by God, someone should understand, feel shame and maybe even change their ways. The media needs to pay.

Fabi said...

There's a very specific immunity afforded commentary made during congress, tim maguire. It's why Reid chose that forum, if I remember correctly. He did the same to the Kochs.

Writ Small said...

Althouse's analysis was a true pleasure to read. My overall interpretation of it was that Althouse was seeking to give Trump every benefit of the doubt but fairly called him out on the indefensible parts.

Chuck's analysis seems more objective despite his admitted biases and Althouse's claims of neutrality.

The lens through which I see Trump is that of person driven by his insecurities. The entire exchange mostly strengthened those impressions.

I would add that there is a "video" of the entire exchange. Actually, it is an audio recording with rotating still photographs. To me, that gives a different flavor to the exchange than the transcript, and it would allow Althouse to hear for herself if there was a transcription error. The video/audio reminded of a panel job interview. The questions were asked emotionlessly, and Trump - absent his crowds - answered with uncharacteristic understated and defensive tones. I do not think they would have hired him and indeed issued a post-interview summary stating as much. The origin of the class issues this election has revealed and Trump taps into were apparent. It was almost as if Trump was desperately seeking their approval and they were withholding it.

Chuck said...

Fabi you're a good soul and deserve better than my just blowing off steam.

Libel and slander are generally now treated as much the same tort (civil wrong) under the heading of "defamation." The laws are all state laws. The state laws are in turn limited by federal case law interpreting how the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution might limit state-court defamation cases, so as to protect free speech, and, in fact more than anything, a free press.

All of the NYT v. Sullivan discussions relate primarily to the protections afforded specifically to the press. And those cases in turn will take you to another thorny area of litigation and that gets to "Who is in the press?"

Is Ann Althouse a member of the press? Am I? Could Trump sue me, or Althouse, under rules different from what he could employ to sue the New York Times?

It really is an interesting area of the law. It puts First Amendment laywers in some funny positions.

One of the all-time great Hall of Fame lawyers in First Amendment law is Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindell in New York. He has been the Times' lawyer almost forever. And yet while the Times has editorialized fiercely against the decision in Citizens United v. FEC, Floyd Abrams was amicus counsel to the ACLU, briefing the case on the side of Citizens United.

Interesting, isn't it?

It's all interesting, until Trump bumbles his way into the conversation and makes hash out of it.

Richard Fagin said...

However clumsily Trump framed the issue, its essence is this, quoted from Prof. Althouse's post: "I suspect he's using 'malice' not in the legal sense, but in the layperson's sense of whether there's ill will or personal antagonism." Is is not reasonable to conclude that layperson jurors think of the term "actual malice" in a jury charge in the same way? Having to prove knowingly publishing falsehood or having reckless disregard for the truth is entirely reasonable, but the N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan holding, which expressly uses the term "actual malice", seems to me to have the effect of imputing a requirement to prove ill will or antagonism notwithstanding anything else in the jury charge. To that extent, Trump has a point about "opening up" libel laws.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The smart thing for Trump would be to say that he wants to pattern US libel law after British libel law. That would get him pretty much what he appears to want, while choking off all the alarmed guesswork, and force liberals to explain why patterning ourselves after Europeans is bad just this once.

RichardS said...

Tom. That Reid spoke on the floor of the Senate means that he's protected, but not from censure by his colleagues, if they still understood their job that way.

Fabi said...

I appreciate that explanation, Chuck. While I am not an anti-Trumper, as you well know, this is one focus of his that is really bizarre. It's so far out of the executive branch that I shake my head.

eric said...

There's a simple answer to this.

Bring back dueling. And anyone who backs down from a duel must retract their words and apologize.

Amanda said...

Regarding the rest of the WaPo interview.

"The key takeaway from this exercise in freestyle presidential rapping is just how incoherent Trump was. "It literally makes Sarah Palin seem like an intellectual," a friend remarked. But that's hard to capture unless you bite the bullet and read the whole thing. Instead, here are a few greatest hits. And now the tab gets closed. Enjoy."

Bob Ellison said...

Most of you here are over-analyzing Trump here.

He is like an officer of the Democrat Party. He does not operate on principle. Don't try to analyze him that way. Trump wants trump, and nothing else.

He's an atheist, a non-American, a self-server, an anti-free-enterpriser, a hater-on-a-minute's-notice, and a power-hungerer with regard to his name, his brand, and his enterprises, even when those things are failures.

Trump does not love America. He loves trump.

This should not be difficult to understand.

RichardS said...

Bring back dueling? Question: If each of has the right to do with our bodies as we choose, why may two consenting adults not agree to put their lives at risk in that way?

Saint Croix said...

in a better world I would be able to get a retraction or a correction.

I see this sort of statement as typically leftist. For a man who can be relentlessly negative about his opponents, he seems to have little self-criticism or awareness of all the things that could go bad, as he tries to make a better world. Part of conservatism is a recognition of limits to what you can do. It's a sort of humility, a realization that perfection is unobtainable, and your quest for a perfect utopia can really fuck up a good society. "Life is unfair" is a conservative belief. Get over your quest for the perfect equality, Marx you goddamn madman. If somebody doesn't want to give you a retraction or a correction, let it go.

That seems to me to be a huge problem with Mr. Lawsuit. An inability to let things go.

Instead of expanding our courts to more and more lawsuits, I would like to shrink our court system. I would like for our society to get over this sort of insane quest to fix every wrong. "You micro-aggrieved me!" Fuck you, wimp. Toughen up and get in the world. For a guy who plays at being a gangster in the media, Donnie is right at home as a whiny liberal who wants justice, justice, justice, and does not mind wrecking freedom, freedom, freedom to get it.

shiloh said...

"This is why Trump is ahead."

Trump is ahead because after McCain/mittens lost to a Communist/Marxist/Islamo-Fascist/Socialist wealth distributing Muslim born in Kenya who wakes up every morning hating America and Americans many Rep voters are just sayin' fuck it!

Plus Trump is a reality star who has the name recognition. And also a billionaire which means he can say fuck it as well. He can go for the fences on every swing and see if any of his bullshit sticks!

43% of Reps think Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, so Trump already has a built-in base.

So Trump has 43% of the Rep base 26% core conservatives.

Chuck said...

eric said...
There's a simple answer to this.

Bring back dueling. And anyone who backs down from a duel must retract their words and apologize.


I thought that was current law, on Chicago's South Side.

DanTheMan said...

I think Fagin is close. If I understand what Trump is upset about, and that's a big if, his desire is fairly straightforward:

If the NYT prints something on the front page that can be proven false, there should be a recourse to compel them to issue a correction. Today, there is no such option unless the offended can *prove* actual malice. This shifts the burden of proof, and creates a very difficult standard to meet, and essentially creates a safe harbor for libeling public figures.

So, if Fox News airs a story about Michelle Obama beating her mother, and it's later shown to be false, the Fox can't hide behind "we had it from multiple reliable sources. Michelle is a public figure, and we believed it was true. So, no malice = no correction = no retraction. In fact, we might air it again if we feel it is newsworthy or relevant."

Trump is asking if that is fair.... I think most people would agree it's not, even if they believe it is the price we pay for a free press.

rhhardin said...

I just post another comment, myself.

SGT Ted said...

Plenty of not-very-smart people have been president, but it's hard to think of anybody whose thinking was quite this disorganized, with the possible exception of Reagan who at least had strong staff below him.

What you say about Reagan destroys your credibility on judging intelligence or thinking, except for your "intellectual snob" self-descriptor.

R. Chatt said...

Trump is not a lawyer and doesn't pretend or attempt to be a lawyer. He has the good sense to leave that to the professionals. He goes by an instinctive sense of right and wrong, but unfortunately the law doesn't work that way. For instance, CA law differs from federal law on actual malice. Seems to me it's virtually impossible to prove actual malice. So a good man can be harmed "legally."

Maybe a solution would be to require the media to give the public figure space to refute false claims and inaccuracies, if they so choose. But wouldn't that require an act of Congress?

Chuck said...

R. Chatt said...
Trump is not a lawyer and doesn't pretend or attempt to be a lawyer. He has the good sense to leave that to the professionals.


If Trump really had "the good sense to leave [this] to the professionals," then why did he blunder his way into this topic, and not get any help in the last two months? He hasn't gotten it right yet. He hasn't come close. He hasn't articulated an interesting or non-conformist view; he has just floundered with a lot of angry angst that basically seems to be borne out of his own bizarre personal history with revenge lawsuits.

Don't kid yourself that Trump is seeking a common man's version of simple justice. Trump sued an author who was a highly credible, professional reporter and editor at the New York Times and Bloomberg News. O'Brien's credentials were good enough to be given access by Trump himself for the book "TrumpNation."

And remember the nature of Trump's lawsuit; after O'Brien reported that Trump's net worth was something like $850 million (working off of documents prepared by other reporters and financial institutions in connection with Trump's underwriting deals and asking for financing), Trump sued O'Brien and the publisher for $5 Billion, without ever proving what his "real" net worth was. Asked in a deposition if Trump had ever prepared a financial statement in connection with his business, he confessed that he never had. It was a bad joke of a lawsuit. Only Trump would have done something so reckless, and I think it is a safe presumption that Trump pursued it was not for any realistic win, but rather for his own personal publicity.

Levi Starks said...

"Media chose the context to promote their point of view"

That's not reporting, that's editorializing.

The fact is that very little true reporting takes place. All the players come to the table with an agenda.

Saint Croix said...

The most notable part of the interview is how obvious it is that he's talking about himself. He wants to change the free speech clause because of people saying things about him. It's not like he's Ralph Nader or one of the clueless Ivy League feminists who want to create a society free of micro-aggressions. Donald Trump wants to create a society where people are not allowed to criticize him.

Note too that it hasn't occurred to the idiot that he could be sued under his own system. He continually says wildly offensive things that other people just ignore. But if we all accept his wacky and idiotic tort system, he would be dragged into federal court all the time for saying the shit he says.

What he wants, obviously, is a two-tiered system of laws. One set of free speech rules for him, and another set of free speech rules for everybody else. He's a classic fascist. It's so obvious it's kind of bewildering that so many people don't see the warning signs.

dwick said...

@6:22 PM, Saint Croix said...

What he wants, obviously, is a two-tiered system of laws.


Well if so, can you blame him? He just wants what the Obama Administration has largely gotten the last 7+ years and what the Clinton always have had.

R. Chatt said...

@ Chuck. I can't speak for Trump. LOL, even if I wanted to. I suggest to you that for all his blundering ways he is extraordinarily disciplined when it comes to staying on brand. He is not going to offer detailed legal arguments to make his case. He is going to speak from the heart. I get the sense when listening to him, even when he is addressing 30K people at a rally, that he's talking to a close friend. That's his brand.

Sebastian said...

Belated thanks for the fisking. Though deconstructing Trump may need a term of its own. Donaldizing?

Hagar said...

If Trump is elected and he still feels strongly about celebrities or public figures getting some protection against irresponsible slanders in the media, he will get some committee together, including Ted Olson and Dershowitz, etc., to look into the legal arguments and what can be done about it.

rcocean said...

What a fun post! The problem is that Trump doesn't really care about Libel laws. He's talking to the WaPo and his only real desire is to manipulate them into treating him more fairly.

Trump has no intention of playing the MSM game where they take some off-the-cuff comment, treat it like it an uber-serious policy statement and then demand the he "defend" their strawman.

Trump is a problem solver/businessman. He's interested in broad goals and not the details. however, if POTUS he will be involved in the economy because its his area of expertise.

mccullough said...

Trying to nail jello to the wall. But they get the first amendment wrong as well. The media get no special protection under the free speech or free press clause than any one else. We all have the same right to speak and the same right to disseminate ideas through available technology (the press is the technology to publish, the printing press not the dorks on "Meet the Press").

Justice Scalia said New York Times v Sullivan was an aberration from how libel law has worked since T he time of founding. All it requires is a false statement of fact. Dance to reputation could be presumed. The burden of proof didn't have to be on the plaintiff to show it was false, much less any state of mind as to the person publishing the statement. The plaintiff only had to identify the false statement and the defendant had the burden of proving it was true. There was nothing requiring the plaintiff to show the defendant knew the statement was false or showed reckless disregard in ascertaining the truth or falsity of the statement.

All Trump has to say is he would appoint justices like Scalia who will interpret the text of the constitution based on its original understanding, which can be obtained by looking at what libel law was like at founding and for the first generation after.

Hagar said...

And if he is not elected, he may hire Olson and Dershowitz to advise him and his legal staff on it.

Kansas City said...

Trump is amazingly unable to provide a direct answer to a question.

The editorial board is amazingly inept in asking questions. And the focus on Trump's view of defamation? Who cares? It is of interest to whom? Maybe the press eggheads at the Washington Post.

Sort of shows how politicians and media fail America.

Beldar said...

@ tim maguire (3/23/16, 3:57 PM), who wrote, "Sitting here in my living room thinking about it, I remember Harry Reid standing in the well of the Senate saying, 'Mitt Romney cheated on his taxes for 10 years.' The law shouldn't protect a sleazeball like Harry Reid deliberately making stuff up to try to cheat the American people out of a fair election."

Actually, as Fabi alluded to above, what protected Reid on that occasion was not only, or even primarily, NYT v. Sullivan, but rather, Article I, Section 6's command that "for any Speech or Debate in either House, [Senators and Representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place." This "speech or debate clause" was understood at the Founding to mean, and has consistently been interpreted since then, to be an absolute immunization from private defamation claims.

I agree that Reid's claim about Romney and his taxes was outrageous, and that his factual assertions were made with actual knowledge of their falsity, as part of a deliberate effort to deceive. However, it was also speech made within and from the literal center of political discourse in the entire country. Romney's only remedy was at the ballot box, and it failed him.

Let's all take a moment to remember something, though, that the press -- and apparently most of the rest of the country, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom -- has let completely drop:

Donald Taxes still won't produce his tax returns for review by the media. He has no legitimate excuse for his refusal; the only excuse he's offered (that he can't because they're under IRS audit) is a transparent lie and evasion. (The IRS already HAS the returns, so releasing them can't possibly make his prospects in the audit either better or worse.) Trump's simply trying to keep under wraps whatever is in them, but they're sure to be leaked before the general election (after the Dems have the satisfaction of seeing Trump get the GOP nomination, if indeed he does).

He'll brag about the size of his junk in a nationally televised campaign debate -- but he won't show you his taxes, and now he won't even show up for debates. Anyone who can't spot the problem here is working overtime to qualify for "world-class sucker" status.

M Jordan said...

I wonder, was Obama ever subject to this kind of grilling? Actually, I don't wonder: he wasn't.

The WP may think they've outed Mr. Trump as a a dummy, but they've only reinforced the accurate view that the media cannot be trusted.

David said...

"It's so inappropriately emotional. Free speech law is serious and important, and here's a man whose only way to talk about it is to plead with us to care about his feelings. It's not about your feelings. You're running for President. You need to get some objectivity and some respect for the law and for what government is."

I don't see his central complaint as being about his own feelings. He's complaining about the bias and sloppiness of major journalistic institutions and the individuals who work there. These people have great freedom of expression. The legal standard for suing them is very difficult to satisfy, they have very visible platform and lawyers to protect them for which they do not have to pay. Given this extraordinary freedom and protection, they should be holding themselves to a higher standard of precision and fairness.

The press is not telling anyone that I am a reprehensible fascistic brute. But their painting Trump this way makes me emotionally unhappy (despair is probably the best label) because I think it cheapens and distorts our political life. The press can be very high minded about their first amendment rights and their institutional importance. They are right about that but they do a poor job of policing themselves and being nearly as high minded about their duties to truth, precision, balance and fairness.

Powerful rights bring powerful responsibilities. The press is strong on their rights and weak on their responsibilities.

shiloh said...

Actually Reid never accused mittens of cheating on his taxes, what he said: "I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years."

Of course, if not true mittens could have released those returns and made Reid look like an idiot. What was probably true is mittens payed very little taxes over a ten year period which would have also been embarrassing so he cut his losses and moved on.

Chuck said...

shiloh:

Mitt Romney DID make Harry Reid look like an idiot. Romney released a memorandum of about 20 years of taxes, summarized, and he released his full 2010 and 2011 tax returns in the course of the 2012 campaign, after Reid disgracefully and falsely claimed that Romney didn't pay taxes. In the end, questioned by the media and asked if he had any regrets over his false claim against Romney, Reid was left to say, "He didn't win, did he?"

shiloh, Mitt Romney never paid any less than a 13% effective tax rate, and it was as low as it was because of Romney's very high levels of charitable donations.

But now, a similar problem has arisen. Another Republican front-runner is going to be pressured to release his tax returns. Will Trump do it? SHOULD Trump release his tax returns, shiloh?

Chuck said...

And, shiloh, just because you wanted to put such a fine point on it, I want to shove this down your throat.

What Harry Reid said on the floor of the Senate was, "Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't."

So don't try to pull that shit about Reid not actually accusing Romney of cheating on his taxes. Because that's exactly what he did.


Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VOIFRH0Zgs

Chuck said...

rcocean said...
What a fun post! The problem is that Trump doesn't really care about Libel laws. He's talking to the WaPo and his only real desire is to manipulate them into treating him more fairly.


wtf?

w.t.f. ? Trump "doesn't really care about libel laws"? He sued the author and publisher of "TrumpNation" for $5 Billion! The case dragged on for three years before Trump was kicked out of court.

Trump threatened Ted Cruz with a libel suit. Before that he threatened The Club For Growth with a libel suit.

Before that, it was Jeb Bush and Right to Rise donor Mike Fernandez that Trump's counsel threatened. Trump's lawyer also threatened Bloomberg News with a libel suit. Some time ago, he threatened Laurence O'Donnell of MSNBC with a libel lawsuit. Before that, he threatened the Washington Post with a suit for reporting on the various Trump bankruptcies. And of course in the recent campaign, Trump has threatened the organization "StopTrump.us" for selling "Stop Trump" and "America is already great" apparel.

Seriously; wtf?

Saint Croix said...

Softball question from the WaPo: "Do you want to start out?"

Answers:

1) No.

I love how his first answer is no. President No! You start out, I do not want to start out. You say something, and I will respond to what you say. I'm a responder. I do not start out.

2) "We're all in the same business of trying to make our country better...so we have something in common."

3) "I've been treated very, very badly by the Washington Post"

His second response is to talk about his battle with the Washington Post. He's reminding himself, and us, that "we're all in the same business of trying to make our country better." There should be unity of purpose. We should be on the same side. Donald Trump is in the business of trying to make our country better. And this leads to his next thought. Why is he being attacked by The Washington Post? His suspicion, I think, is that The Washington Post is not trying to make the country better. "I am trying to make the country better. Why are you attacking me?" Notice that he is reading The Washington Post and keeping a list in his head of the people who are attacking him. Those are his enemies at The Washington Post. The original question, of course, was "Do you want to start out?" And after "No," his second/third response is to get very personal. It's Donald Trump vs. The Washington Post. He's trying to figure out why The Washington Post is attacking him, and he wants to stop it.

4) "I'm your neighbor, I'm your neighbor right down the road"

He's back to reminding himself that we are on the same side. We are neighbors. When he meets the President of Mexico, I can imagine him saying the same thing. "I'm your neighbor! I'm your neighbor right down the road." But maybe Mexico is too far away to be a neighbor. Donald Trump is here, in Washington D.C. And The Washington Post is his neighbor, and should be neighborly. Mexico is way the hell on the other side of our country. Definitely not our neighbor. Come on, Washington Post! Why can't you be neighborly with your neighbor, Donald Trump, who lives right down the road?

5) "Bob Costa is an excellent reporter"

He's back to saying positive things about The Washington Post. Carrot, stick. Identify the good reporters at The Washington Post, and help them advance and move up in power. The implication, of course, is that there are some bad reporters at The Washington Post, reporters who will not be named. But you know who you are!

Saint Croix said...

6) "I have to give you the good and the bad."

The Washington Post needs feedback and instruction on how to do its job, which of course is improving the country. In one of his speeches Donald Trump mentions Jeff Bezos, and his aggravation with this billionaire who has bought The Washington Post. Damn it! I should have done that! If I was your boss I would really fix things at The Washington Post. We're neighbors, you're aggravating me, we need to fix The Washington Post.

7) "So we’re having a news conference today in the new building that’s going up, and the building is very much ahead of schedule, because it was supposed to open two years from September, and we’re going to open it in September. We could open it actually sooner but we’re going to break it in a little bit, so we’re going to open it in September, and it’s under budget, even though we’ve increased the quality of the finishes substantially, marble finishes, very high quality of marble, so we’re under budget and ahead of schedule. And I’m, you know, I am that way when I build, I know how to build, I know how to get things done."

Now he's talking about his passion, which is building things. He is weirdly specific about "the quality of the finishes" which are "marble finishes," and not just marble but "very high quality of marble." This makes me thing that he is hooked on building a wall because he likes to build things. The follow up question I would ask here is if the wall on the Mexican border is going to be built with marble. How beautiful is the wall going to be, and what materials are you planning on using?

8) "The GSA, I will say, GSA has been very professional, they've been very, very professional. They chose us over--I think they had more than 100 people who bid, you can imagine, because of the location, but they had over 100 people that bid, and it was broken down into ten finalists, and I got it."

I'm starting to think that "professional" is "knows that Trump is a winner."

9) "It's still a little bit rough--as an example, a lot of the marble surfaces all have sheetrock covering, and plywood covering
on them"

10) "that'll be a fun news conference"

And that is how he answers the softball question, "Do you want to start out?"

Saint Croix said...

Now I want to ask him if he has ever read The Fountainhead, and what he thinks of Ayn Rand.

This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him.

I now have the urge to instruct Donald Trump and get him to read books that he will like and will improve his mind. Also I want to get him into Bible study. I have this urge with Althouse all the time! I want to send her this book because Jesus is an outlaw, a beautiful outlaw, and Althouse likes beautiful outlaws.

I have a suspicion that the Trump administration will be known for its wonderful new monuments and buildings, made of the finest marble. The physical place of Washington D.C. will look better, that is almost a certainty. Washington D.C. will look great! I hope you live nearby, neighbor, so you can visit this wonderful, wonderful place.

Unknown said...

The fact that it takes so much ink to decipher to understand what Trump is saying says it all. People like to hear short sentences constructed with simple and short words. "We will build a beautiful wall" and "Keep the Muslims out" and so on resonate but ultimately they have to move on and flesh out their ideas even just a little bit.

I read the transcript in full when it was published and my immediate thought was that Trump must be suffering from the onset of dementia because leaders don't talk like this. Really, they don't. You can put as much lipstick around this but this is insane.

If Trump becomes President then these wishy washy words with multiple meanings could be turned into laws that his voters didn't want but it will be too late.

It is also remarkable that none of Trump's core supporters question his tax plans which is to substantially reduce the rate for the rich. How does that help the working-class and lower middle-class? Haven't we already had 40 years of trickle-down economics get us to this point and we want to vote for someone who wants to carry on with the same failed policies?

The real tragedy has always been people voting against their economic interests and instead being bamboozled by religion, gun-rights, race and immigration. Sad, very sad.

oleh said...

"He figures out where he wants to go, and then the lawyers get on the job and figure out how to get there.

Why would you ask him how to get anywhere? He's the source of the desire to get there."

There are some, including myself, who generally believe that this is not a bad model for leadership. That is an effective leader need not be steeped in tactical minutia - rather he should know his strategy and have the drive to get there while inspiring his underlings to execute tactically. Very militaristic, I know. I would point out however that even here a good leader kinows enough to give tactical outlines when neccessary, and to resolve bottlenecks. Napoleon didn't just say "go take that hill". He could devise general tactics on how to do this.

Anyway, more importantly... under such a model the leader needs to be trustworthy. And his strategy must be acceptable.

My problem is not so much that Trump is ignorant of much of what would go into executing his strategy, I can live with that to some extent, even applaud it when there is enough knowledge to arrive at plausible strategy. It's that 1) his strategy is often abhorent: stifle free speech (when it is used to attack him); deport all illegals within a short period of time; bring back industries that are inefficient in the US - and therefore 2) the tactics employed will neccessarily be destructive: beat up those protesters and later sic federal agencies on his opponents; carry out massive oppressive police actions to round up illegals; raise trade barriers thus throwing the world into economic chaos.

Worse yet when these tactics fail, doubling down is the only logical next step, because there is no bankruptcy protection for bankrupt ideas. (By the way shouldn't this be an anti-trump slogan?)

Roger Sweeny said...

He sounds to me like the many (much more respectable) people who say, "I believe in free speech, but hate speech isn't free speech."

In fact, he is quite literally saying that things in the Post show hatred of him.

(If some Emory students can say a chalked "Trump 2016" makes them feel unsafe, other students can say a chalked "Black lives matter" (not All lives matter) makes them feel unsafe.)

Moneyrunner said...

Lawyers talk about the law. People talk about fairness. In a fight for people's minds, fairness beats the law hollow.