You-read-it-here-first department, ctd

I speculated a few years ago that Trump et. al. might attack the press by attempting to financially exhaust news outlets.

Last, Trump has signaled plainly that he intends to neuter the media, that reporting which doesn’t flatter him will be punished. When scowls don’t work, my guess is that his tool of choice will be economic attrition via the courts — a long train of legally feeble but costly SLAPPs. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN were targeted in that way. We all know that newspapers, especially, are hurting, and so the expectation would be that the lesser news outlets would quickly fall into line.

Ha-ha. If The Donald thinks that journos are in it for the money, he is in for a big surprise. As Richard Nixon was surprised, say, when he thought that a court order could arrest publication of the Pentagon Papers — and woke-up to find them published in hundreds of newspapers all across the country.

Well. What do you know?

The campaign to reelect President Donald Trump sued The New York Times for defamation Wednesday, saying it was responsible for an essay by a former executive editor for the newspaper that claimed the campaign made a deal with Russian officials to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

In the lawsuit in state court in New York, Donald J. Trump for President Inc. said the newspaper knowingly published false and defamatory statements when the Op-Ed piece claimed the campaign had an “overarching deal” with “Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy” to defeat the Democratic candidate.

Even FOX News’ Judge Napolitano ridicules the lawsuit.

Napolitano explained why he does not believe the campaign has “standing” to bring a libel lawsuit.

“The plaintiff is the [Trump] campaign, and under libel law here in New York, where they filed the complaint, a group can’t be the plaintiff, only an individual who’s actually been harmed by the alleged defamation can be the plaintiff. Was the president harmed? I don’t think he was harmed, this statement came out after he was already president and it certainly didn’t harm him when he was running for president and it is not harming him now,” Napolitano argued.

Remember: There is an election coming, and this is no more than an effort to make the New York Times and other newspapers tippy-toe around the First Felon.

With respect to the journalists I’ve known, and the publications I’ve written for, this suit is akin to throwing mounds of bloody red meat before bare-fanged carnivores; there is no way on earth this suit will intimidate them. Do Trump and his sycophants really not know that?

Or are they hoping to go around the journos and send a case of indigestion to the business office? That might actually work against struggling regional newspapers, but is unlikely to be effective against nationally distributed newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Nobody should feel any confusion, though, about the gravity of Trump’s intent to put freedom of the press in the rear-view mirror.

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