Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump's rants at the corporate press lords

President-elect Donald Trump called in several representatives of the corporate press to bully them into giving him favorable propaganda coverage. By David Remnick reports for the New Yorker (Donald Trump Personally Blasts the Press 11/22/2016)

For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.

This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.

The over-all impression of the meeting from the attendees I spoke with was that Trump showed no signs of having been sobered or changed by his elevation to the country’s highest office. Rather, said one, “He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing blowhard as he was during the campaign.”
It was a star-studded group invited there (of course!), "The participants all shook Trump’s hand at the start of the session and congratulated him, but things went south from there. The attendees included around two dozen anchors and executives from CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and ABC, including Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Gayle King, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz."

Emily Bazelonnov reports on a legal tactic of superrich plaintifss like Trump using liberal suits to intimidate reporters and publishers (Billionaires vs. the Press in the Era of Trump New York Times 11/22/2016):

In the half-century since [the Supreme Court decision] New York Times v. Sullivan, the United States has often held itself up to the world as a beacon for the free press. American libel law, the theory goes, protects writers and publishers better than the laws of countries like Britain, where it’s easier to win a libel judgment. Yet giant jury awards don’t topple publications in the United Kingdom: The country has an unofficial damages cap of about £250,000 (plus legal fees). British publishers can, in essence, treat compensating someone whose reputation they have harmed as a cost of doing business. And it’s less risky for them to apologize for a story that turns out to be wrong. “There are limits on damages for malpractice suits against doctors,” says Robert Post, dean of the Yale Law School. “Why not for journalists?” ...

What’s new here are two forces squeezing journalism like pincers. The first is a figure like Thiel, willing to place bets on lawsuit after lawsuit until he hits on a winning combination of facts, judge and jury. The second is the public’s animosity toward the press, now fueled by the soon-to-be president. Juries tend to reflect public sentiment and have recently penalized not just an irreverent new-media site like Gawker, but also a newspaper doing investigative work. In September, The News & Observer, which is more than 100 years old, went to trial over a libel claim brought by a former state ballistics agent in North Carolina, who sued regarding two articles from 2010 that included suspicions, by independent firearms experts, that she had falsified evidence to help prosecutors win a murder trial. The agent said that the suspicions were untrue and that she was effectively being accused of a crime. The News & Observer stands by its reporting. But the jury found against the paper and ordered it to pay about$9 million; the amount exceeded the state’s cap on damages and is likely to be lowered to $6 million. The News & Observer plans to appeal.

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