If there is anything that President Donald Trump can’t stand, it’s bad publicity and news coverage.
After all, he is a malignant narcissist. His ego cannot take criticism of any kind.
That might be why he and his 2020 re-election campaign have taken the extraordinary step of filing a lawsuit against the New York Times.
The subject of the lawsuit is an opinion article — yes, newspapers do still publish those — where the author opined that Trump was getting help from Russia to get re-elected. Trump’s 2020 campaign promptly issued the following tweet:
The statement from Trump’s 2020 campaign spokesperson Jenna Ellis reads as follows:
“Today the President’s re-election campaign filed suit against the New York Times for falsely stating the campaign had an ‘overarching deal’ with ‘Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy’ to ‘help the campaign against Hillary Clinton’ in exchange for ‘a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from … economic sanctions.’ ”
This is ridiculous on its face. For one thing, it is clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to beat Hillary Clinton. In fact, Putin said so himself. Further, it is no secret that Trump is into dictators, strongmen, and autocrats.
Perhaps the most damning of all, though, is the fact that this piece was done as opinion. For Trump, who is a public figure, to win this libel suit, he and his campaign would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the powers that be at the New York Times knew that what they were printing was false.
“The statements were and are 100 percent false and defamatory. The complaint alleges The Times was aware of the falsity at the time it published them, but did so for the intentional purpose of hurting the campaign, while misleading its own readers in the process.”
Of course, the Trump campaign cannot possibly have any knowledge of the Times’s wanting to use that piece to hurt their campaign. The Russia situation is settled, the investigation is over, and public opinion is not likely to move on the matter anytime soon. Trump supporters will continue to believe the whole thing was a hoax, and people who hate Trump will believe it was true, and the politically uneducated and uninterested will remain unconcerned.
This is just another technique to distract from the many bumbling moves on the part of this administration, and a way to drum up the fires in their base to a fever pitch just in time for the election.
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Shannon Barber is a progressive queer feminist and budding political scientist. She is passionate about issues of social justice, including but not limited to racial equality, criminal justice reform, pro-Black politics, and LGBTQ equality. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time.