The reelection campaign for President Donald Trump is threatening television stations in key states with lawsuits if they do not withdraw liberal PAC ads claiming that Trump said the coronavirus was a hoax. Fact-checkers said it’s misleading to claim Trump called the virus a hoax. The full quote shows that he instead was referring to Democrats’ politicizing the virus. (The Hill, March 25, 2020, by Jonathan Easley)
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate, March 26, 2020, called the campaign’s threats a “brazen effort to censor Trump’s opponents into silence.” While the stations are protected by the First Amendment, a lawsuit could cause them spend sizable amounts of money on legal fees. The reelection campaign also suggests that the Federal Communications Commission could revoke their licenses. Stern disputes the fact-checkers take, “In context, the true meaning seems more ambiguous; like so many of Trump’s wildest declarations, it’s slippery enough that the president can claim innocence while his supporters can interpret it however they choose.” The irony is that Trump himself lies routinely about his stances on healthcare.
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