'Our current libel laws are a sham'

'Our current libel laws are a sham'

'Our current libel laws are a sham'

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for tougher libel laws, saying the current iteration is a "sham and a disgrace" as he addressed his Cabinet and reporters at the White House.

"Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness", Trump said Wednesday.

Trump did not elaborate on how he might undertake the effort, but said simply, "We're going to take a very, very strong look at it". He can look all he wants, but he can't do anything about it. Cue cable news fainting anyway.

Not just because he lacks the power to change libel law, or because his authoritarian tendencies are no surprise a year into his presidency, but because Trump has said he was going to change libel law so many times and done nothing to act on it that no one takes him seriously anymore. "We want fairness. You can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account".

The meeting was unlike past Cabinet meetings, which have been marked by officials praising the president.

The President made no mention of "Fire and Fury", the new Michael Wolff book that takes a critical look at Trump's first year in office.

Image Zoom
Image Zoom

According to Steve Bannon's "Fire and Fury", Trump never thought he'd wind up in the White House.

Over the weekend, Trump said "libel laws are very weak in this country" and that "if they were strong", the book wouldn't have been published in the first place.

This month, the Grammy-, Oscar-, and Tony-winning multi-hyphenate weighed in on the GOP-led passage of tax reform, claiming that the new law would blue states, Hollywood employees, and athletes. Public officials like Trump, still, have recourse when they can prove "actual malice" or that the falsehoods made were done recklessly or maliciously.

Specifically, the Court's 1964 ruling in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan holds that false statements about public figures-specifically public officials-cannot be the basis for defamation or libel judgments unless they are "knowingly" or "recklessly" false.

"I had not seen him get this angry about a book since he finished 'The Monster at the End of This Book, '" Colbert said, referring to the popular children's book.

It's unclear what Trump could do to change libel law, which are at the state level and governed by Supreme Court precedent.

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