Clinton Campaign Also Not A Fan Of Free Speech: Sends Legal Threat Letters Over Trump Ads

from the oh-please dept

If there’s one thing that the two major Presidential candidates seem to agree on it’s that we have too much free speech and all you First Amendment whiners should quiet down. Just this morning, we wrote about Trump threatening a documentary filmmaker with a cease & desist letter (the latest in a fairly long list of defamation threat letters). And it appears that the Clinton campaign is also ramping up its similar legal threat letter business.

Last week, it sent cease & desist letters to broadcasters in Florida who were airing Trump ads that used some footage of Michelle Obama back in the 2008 campaign taking something of a swipe at Clinton. And, just today, the campaign supposedly sent out cease & desist letters to broadcasters airing new Trump ads claiming that Clinton is “under investigation by the FBI.”

The letter lists some pro-Trump PACs, including Rebuilding America Now and Future 45, and the titles of ads they are funding.

Elias’ letter says that “at no point” did the FBI “reopen” the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Uh, yeah, there’s no way in hell that’s defamation. Yes, it’s inaccurate to say that the FBI “reopened” its investigation, because technically the investigation never closed. But it’s perfectly accurate to say that the FBI was investigating things related to Clinton’s emails. There’s no way in hell that the difference between continuing an investigation and “reopening” an investigation reaches the level of “actual malice” needed to satisfy a defamation claim. And, no, the fact that Comey said that there’s nothing new in the emails doesn’t change the analysis here. Especially in a political ad, some amount of rhetorical hyperbole is to be expected.

Yes, I know this campaign has been pretty bitterly fought by both sides, and a month ago, Trump threatened to sue Clinton over her campaign ads, but both of them are full of shit, and are blatantly misrepresenting or ignoring how the First Amendment protects speech, including the speech in their opponents’ TV ads.

Wouldn’t it be nice if one of the two people who will win tomorrow actually respected the damn First Amendment?

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Comments on “Clinton Campaign Also Not A Fan Of Free Speech: Sends Legal Threat Letters Over Trump Ads”

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39 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I see you underestimate the American People’s willingness to resurrect their sorry asses!

You think this election is bad… wait till we see next election!

In fact, keep a log of how much worse you think each election has gotten juxtaposed to things you once could do that are now illegal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, come on!

I mean, this stupidity has got to stop at some point! Not the attack ads, of course, but protecting blatant falsehoods under ther aegis of the First Amjendment. I mean, both parties seem to think that Free Speech under this only applies to them; however, in my opinion, ‘Fire!’m doctrine should be applied (from the now famous, fire in a crowded theater’ analogy.)

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just like there wouldn’t be a next election after Kenyan-born Marxist Muslim Obama seizes everyone’s guns and starts a race war.

And like there wouldn’t be an election after Dubya dissolves America in favor of a North American Union.

And like there wouldn’t be an election after Bill taxes and spends the government into bankruptcy and seizes everyone’s guns.

Right-wingnuts love their fantasies.

Padpaw (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Obama did some very undemocratic things as president though. Are you just going to ignore that because of the party he follows?

Might blow your mind to know that during the civil war it was the slave owning south states that were mostly democrat, and the union states were mostly republicans that did not care for slavery. Of course there were exceptions but for the most part the south was blue and north was red politically.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Most KKK members were in fact Democrat! There was a high ranking KKK Member in congress, a Democrat not long ago before he died.

I have to hand it to Democrats rewriting History like they have. Even with all their large black base in the crappers, and not getting better, in fact worse, they still vote Democrat. Like somehow things will get better for them this time. Obama has been in office for almost 8 years. The first 2 years the Democrats could have done anything they wanted. All they ended up doing is sneaking through the health care law in the middle of the night, and before that telling us they need to pass it to find out what’s in it!!! That’s been a huge pipe of crap and has screwed me over!!!

Obama, Dropping TONS of smart bombs onto people, killing many innocent people. Where’s Code Pink? They were all over BUSH and at his property protecting, and he did a tiny fraction of bombs Obama has dropped. All I hear now is crickets. It was all political. The vial names Bush and his family were called, and thin skin Obama is always bitching about Fox news. Bush it’s Everyone else, Obama, it’s Fox News, the Boogie Man.

Republican’s want less Government in your lives. The larger it get’s the more corrupt it becomes. People would be up in arms if they actually sat down and starting figuring out all the taxes they pay, and it’s never enough. Here in California, we voted for a Temporary Tax increase. It was only suppose to last 12 years or something, and here we are Voting on it again to extend it even longer, because the Government can’t live without it!!!

Government could still 100% of everyone’s money and it wouldn’t be enough. It’s never enough. Why is that? More people, More taxes money coming in. But no, raise taxes higher, and higher, and higher. 50% already pay no Federal Taxes. The other 50%, could pay 100% of their money and not shrink the out of control deficient. It grew higher under OBAMA, then every single president in the past COMBINED!!!

At some point, the dollar is not going to be worth crap. We’ll be another banana republic. It all started when we got off the Gold Standard. That allowed the Government to spend like crazy. Bank Interest rates used to be much better. You could actually just put money into your Savings account and rely on that to Retire. Inflation didn’t go up much. So many people don’t know this. The whole system is crazy.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

_Obama did some very undemocratic things as president though._

The same generic claim can be made with equal truth about ANY President.

When you actually request details, the most Republicans come up with is the use of executive orders, ignoring that a) they’re part of how the system works, b) they’re limited; Congress can override them, and c) Obama used them at a lower rate than any President in a hundred years.

> _Might blow your mind to know that during the civil war…_

It’s common knowledge, discussed even here on this tech forum recently. Would it blow your mind that the civil war was 150 years ago? That rational people put greater weight on a party’s modern policies than those 150 years ago? That Republicans’ race-baiting and civil rights opposition today trumps 150 or even 50-year-old history?

David says:

Why the first?

Wouldn’t it be nice if one of the two people who will win tomorrow actually respected the damn First Amendment?

I mean, it’s a nice part of the Bill of Rights. But it’s sort of pointless without the rest of the Bill of Rights since they can still just beat you up and throw you into jail when they are in the mood for that when due process is out for lunch.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wouldn’t it be nice if one of the two people who will win tomorrow actually respected the damn First Amendment?

Political leaders,, like religious leaders, are pushing their desires as to how other people should behave, and this makes free speech dangerous to their ambitions to shape society in the way they desire.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s like saying you’d rather be struck by lightning than have Ebola. How about getting struck by lightning twice in a row?

Yes, I know people have survived either, but what kind of standard is that for a presidential election?

How do the primaries manage to pick the select few from the U.S. population that seriously make you wish for a rabid squirrel (and I am not talking about what Trump has atop of his head) as an alternative?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“How do the primaries manage to pick the select few from the U.S. population that seriously make you wish for a rabid squirrel (and I am not talking about what Trump has atop of his head) as an alternative?”

Voting for a party does this. It is its natural outcome. If you have voted for a person that represents a political party then you are part of the blame.

I have found people that would rather destroy the entire nation than to see their party die or vote against it.

As Einstein said…

Two things are infinite, the Universe and human stupidity… and I am not sure about the Universe.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Re: Response to: Oninoshiko on Nov 7th, 2016 @ 1:45pm

“Wouldn’t it be nice if one of the two people who will win tomorrow actually respected the damn First Amendment?
Remember, Gary Johnson is still on the ballot in every state…”

I too read that and thought, oh no, Techdirt is promoting the same false dilemma that everybody else is. But I ran through the logic in my head a few times and realized that by “two people who win” he was talking about whomever won the president and vice president votes.

Perhaps it could have been phrased better, though.

tom (profile) says:

Hillary is a lawyer and seems to lack the basic understanding of standing. How can her campaign have any valid basis to complain about Trump’s use of video of Michelle Obama? Now Michelle might have standing to file a complaint about Trump’s use of videos of her but not Hillary. And even then, videos of campaign commentary would seem to be fair game for fair use in other campaign commentary.

Scary betting opportunity, how soon after Nov 8 someone makes a public announcement that they are forming a 2020 campaign committee?

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