The Paradox Of Trump Threatening Documentary Filmmaker While Supporting Citizens United
from the fine-for-me,-not-for-anyone-else dept
I’m not sure if Donald Trump has ever officially weighed in on the famous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, but if he did, I’m guessing he would support that ruling wholeheartedly. After all, he recently hired the former President of Citizens United to be his deputy campaign manager. And, I know that people freak out about the term “Citizens United” and some believe it’s the root cause of all evil in American politics today, but that’s wrong. At its heart, that case was a First Amendment free speech case, about whether a group (Citizens United) could show a documentary film heavily critical of Hillary Clinton close to the 2008 election. We can all argue about the evils of campaign finance and dark money and super PACs, but there should be ways to fix that without banning movies.
Either way, it’s quite ironic that with the former head of Citizens United helping to lead his campaign, Trump is now basically arguing against the very Citizens United ruling by threatening to sue lots of folks associated with a new documentary, called You’ve Been Trumped Too. Unfortunately, the filmmaker hasn’t released the actual threat letters, so we can’t see the details, but he claims that “Trump is threatening to sue movie theatres, reporters or anyone who repeats the allegations made in my new film.” People Magazine claims it’s seen the threat letters but chosen not to post them.
The documentary is actually the third in a series of documentaries that Anthony Baxter has made about Trump, mostly focusing on a family in Scotland that the Trump family has bullied and generally treated exceptionally badly while building a giant golf course where they lived. In response to the claimed threat, Baxter decided to stream the film live on Facebook last week. Most of the reviews I’ve read of the film basically say that there’s not enough material to make a true feature film documentary, and that it’s basically a one-note follow-up on the earlier films, trying to capitalize on the election.
But, either way, Baxter should be able to make and release his film without legal threats. And if Trump truly supported Citizens United, he’d agree. But, of course, like so many today, it appears that Trump is willing to support free speech when it serves his interests, but not when it serves others’. And, of course, the same goes for Hillary Clinton — who has talked about overturning Citizens United. That’s a bit unseemly, of course. Pledging to overturn a ruling that said a movie criticizing you could be released?
Nobody comes out of any of this looking good. Which, you know, is basically the theme of this election. Thankfully it’s finally over tomorrow.