Trump’s threat on changing libel laws has no teeth

Once again President Donald trump has tweeted that he wants to change libel laws this time to get back at the New York Times. (Deadline Hollywood, March 30, 2017, by Lisa de Moraes)

In The New York Times, March 30, 2017, Adam Liptak says the president cannot change libel laws since libel law is “a state-law tort.” Any changes must come through state legislatures and courts. Furthermore, the Supreme Court’s ruling Times v. Sullivan restricting state power in defining libel of public figures.

A New York Post editorial, March 30, 2017 stated, “Meddling with libel law in the name of reining in ‘irresponsible’ journalism will do nothing to encourage truth-telling, and far too much to stifle the free press — particularly the small players who can’t afford high legal bills.”

If he wants to punish the media, Trump can use the law to punish leakers and bring contempt of court charges against journalists for withholding the identities of their sources. (Poynter Institute, March 31, 2017, by Benjamin Mullin)