Trump's Constant Whining About The NY Times Isn't Just Bad For The First Amendment

from the business-threats dept

We’ve already made it clear that we’re quite concerned about how freedom of expression will fare under President Trump. He has a long history of threatening and/or suing those who cover him factually, but in a manner he dislikes. And while he hasn’t (as far as I can tell) threatened to sue anyone since the election, he appears to have become somewhat obsessed with the NY Times. Since winning the election he’s tweeted at least six times about the NY Times, insisting (incorrectly) that it was losing subscribers and (incorrectly) that it had “apologized” to readers for its Trump coverage. He also claimed (incorrectly) that it had said he hadn’t spoken to foreign leaders — when the actual article just said that his conversations with foreign leaders happened without State Department briefings (which is fairly stunning). Here’s what the NY Times said:

One week after Mr. Trump scored an upset victory that took him by surprise, his team was improvising the most basic traditions of assuming power. That included working without official State Department briefing materials in his first conversations with foreign leaders.

But Trump claimed something entirely different:

And, yes, I know that there are some folks who just flat out hate the NY Times and think that it lies and such. And I’ve certainly complained my fair share about weak or misleading coverage by the NY Times over the years, but it’s still problematic when a President or President-elect is directly attacking any publication. It creates serious chilling effects on reporters. And, it can be even worse than that. As Yashar Ali noted in a Twitter thread, attacking a company as “failing” has real consequences, especially one that is traded on the public markets, potentially harming all sorts of everyday investors.

I’m guessing that many who just hate the NY Times won’t care about this, but it is serious. There’s a reason why Presidents don’t go around attacking companies or saying that they’re “failing” or that their business is in trouble. Because that has real consequences. I still don’t think that journalists should be suing Trump for defamation, as some have suggested, but it would be nice if our President-elect recognized that going around and attacking the press — even if he disagrees with its coverage — is entirely inappropriate.

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Comments on “Trump's Constant Whining About The NY Times Isn't Just Bad For The First Amendment”

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77 Comments
Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not aware of Obama advocating for congressional action to restrict Facebook’s distribution of fake news stories, but I admit I haven’t watched the news much since the election.

That said, Hillary Clinton once sponsored an amendment to ban flag burning, so yeah, it’s not like the leading lights in either party have a sterling record on the First Amendment.

Antikaon says:

Sigh

Good points, but your title is part of the problem. Your title starts with “Trump’s Constant Whining”. Right off the bat, before the story can even be read the OPINION of the author is expressed. This colors the whole article. You could have said “Trump’s statements” or “Trump’s tweets”, then presented the facts. Instead, Trump supporters (and Clinton non-supporters), will just dismiss this as another attack piece. They’ll never read your content and their (legitimate) distrust of the mainstream media will grow. Media sources like the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc. do the same thing. Why? It’s inflammatory and therefore draws eyeballs to advertising.

Stop being part of the problem. Lead by example.

brad (profile) says:

Re: Sigh

I like (and often agree with) the tone of your articles, but I agree with Antikaon in that you won’t be convincing anybody not already on your side with that kind of rhetoric. If your intent is to preach to the choir, I’m happy to hear you preach and I agree. If you want to alter opinions that don’t agree with yours, showing care with how you frame it would certainly be more effective in that regard.

I’d go so far as to say that similar rhetoric is the reason we keep getting GWBs and Trumps infesting the white house. I’m fairly convinced that a lot of the reason we get people voting in that direction is just to spite all the people calling them stupid for voting for Trumps and Gee-Dubs. “What, you think that’s stupid? I’ll show YOU!”

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sigh

You mean calling a spade a spade isn’t cool? Too quick to qualify? Is he wrong? Wrong tone? Not CNN enough? Too much CNN? Were you guys upset? Is this a search for acceptance gone wrong? The power to change minds backfiring? What?

The guy is POTUS in a twitter tister with the NYT. Dude’s pretty much whining. I might be with you on the “Constant” part though because that might tend to imply to infinity and beyond. He should definitely change that, like, immediately, or I could, you know, I could freak the fuck out. It’s not right. Not cool.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sigh

Someone is finally getting it. All the name calling and labeling has rallied the troops. Conservatives are none of those things, but the left can’t defend their policies so they have little left to do but try to bully the right into submission. The right has awakened and decided to do something about it. Until the left comes to the table, they will keep losing.

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/jan/25/cokie-roberts/have-democrats-lost-900-seats-state-legislatures-o/

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sigh

Again…this link…

Can a conservative please chime in as to whether or not you guys actually trust politifact or not?

If it’s about Trump getting a mostly false rating for his clever use of statistics, they’re not to be trusted.

But this 900 seat link? It’s right on the money.

Re-posting this same shit makes you guys look grossly inconsistent, if not downright hypocritical.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sigh

America doesn’t really have a left as such. There’s progressive, liberal, libertarian, moderate conservatives, and various factions in the alt-right.

Can we please stop calling everyone who disagrees with the far right factions “leftists?” This really annoys me because it’s not true. You want left wing politics? Go and check out Jeremy Corbyn. That is left wing.

I don’t often see progressives advocating state control of industry.

TJK says:

Re: Sigh

[]

….No, these are not “good points” about Trump by TD

The NY Times hammers Trump daily with misleading and often false reporting. The bias is overwhelming.

Trump has every right to openly challenge unfair news coverage, both as a private citizen and President.
U.S. Presidents complaining about news coverage of them has been normal practice for over two centuries.

The NY Times is not sacredly immune to criticism, as a private business. Hillary & Obama boldly pledged to destroy the U.S. coal industry.

Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. openly admitted the paper failed to fairly evaluate Trump’s candidacy… and pledged to rededicate the Times to honest journalism.

Trump is correct that the Times is failing financially — 3rd Quarter 2016 earnings fell sharply in a constant downhill trend. Deceptive quibbles about the Times subscriber base cannot hide the sorry bottom line. (note that the subscriber total includes significant numbers of Times Crossword-Puzzle-only & Book-Review-only paid subscribers)

Overall, an obviously biased hatchet-job on Trump here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sigh

Oooooh, yeah, that’ll show him he’s wrong. That’s the sarcasm OF JUSTICE right there. Heck, it’s almost a super power. maybe you can be the new superhero DC needs to revamp the Justice League and teach all the cissies and tru-scum the power that can be harnessed by a disabled polynesian tri-gender pyrofox-kin…

See how ^ added jack shit to the conversation? Learn from that.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Sigh

The NY Times hammers Trump daily with misleading and often false reporting. The bias is overwhelming.

[Citation needed]

Trump has every right to openly challenge unfair news coverage, both as a private citizen and President.
U.S. Presidents complaining about news coverage of them has been normal practice for over two centuries.

This goes beyond simply complaining about the coverage. He’s advocating for changing the law to restrict First Amendment rights. That’s foolish coming from a private citizen and dangerous coming from a politician, no matter what political party.

The NY Times is not sacredly immune to criticism, as a private business. Hillary & Obama boldly pledged to destroy the U.S. coal industry.

Fair enough.

DougW says:

Re: Re: Re: NYTimes Hammers Trump

…just scan today’s NYTimes for blatant instances of anti-Trump bias.

Example today: “As Trump Rises, So Do Some Hands Waving Confederate Battle Flags”

Above NYTimes news article smears Trump as a racist, by attempting to connect Trump with Confederate Flag displays by a few of his supporters.

Intentionally a bit subtle to put a small fig leaf over the smear, the NYTimes does paint a very clear theme from the very first sentence in that article:

“white supremacists” + “massacre of black churchgoers in Charleston” + “racist Confederate Flag” + “some Trump supporters with Confederate Flag” = “Trump is Racist”

The Times constantly publishes this type of subtle Trump-
hammering.

(P.S. @Thad — start footnoting all your own assertions here… before using the old “citation needed” ploy)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 NYTimes Hammers Trump

"As Trump Rises, So Do Some Hands Waving Confederate Battle Flags"

The Times constantly publishes this type of subtle Trump-
hammering.

Those folks waving those flags are his followers. He could say they’re wrong, or try to distance himself from them. But he doesn’t. That’s not the Times’ fault.

Ironically, they’re waving the flag of the side that lost. So at least we know it’s going to be a funny 4 years watching the nation’s finest come out of the woodwork.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sigh

“This goes beyond simply complaining about the coverage. He’s advocating for changing the law to restrict First Amendment rights. That’s foolish coming from a private citizen and dangerous coming from a politician, no matter what political party.”

The First amendment was created in an era n which news papers and information was much like Youtube is to social content today.

Today there are at most 20 mainstream news organizations: CNN, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, FOX ABC (US), New York Times, Washing Post et.

It was never the intent of the founding fathers that only main stream news media should be able to express their (New York City) opinion while the rest of the country was shackled in their ability to express their opinion to the point that if it were not for social meada they could not do such.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sigh

Yes, it is funny how the left demonizes success and wealth and then the author is afraid that Trump will wipe out billions in shareholder value. So are the rich major scumbags to be looked down upon or are we to worry about their shareholder value?

The NYT deserves to be put out of business. Something better will take its place. It is called creative destruction, something the author here has talked about in the past.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Sigh

Right off the bat, before the story can even be read the OPINION of the author is expressed.

Yes. This is an opinion site. We state opinions.

What’s the problem now?

Instead, Trump supporters (and Clinton non-supporters), will just dismiss this as another attack piece. They’ll never read your content and their (legitimate) distrust of the mainstream media will grow.

Wait. It’s my responsibility that some people live in such a closed bubble they refuse to read anything that doesn’t already meet their preconceived notions? Fuck that. I’m not here to coddle people. I’m here to state my opinion.

It’s inflammatory and therefore draws eyeballs to advertising.

That’s not why we do it. We do it because that’s what we’ve always done. We state opinions. Have been for almost 20 years.

Doug says:

Re: Re: Sigh

Don’t conflate Trump with the things Trump supporters want. Trump was a disaster as a candidate, is a disaster as a pres-elect, and will be a disaster as a president. We are playing into his hand if we think we need to sugar-coat that in order to somehow win over his supporters. You can sugar coat your dislike of Trump all you want and you will not win over his supporters.

What may win over his non-fringe supporters (of which there are some) is substantive progress on real issues that have a real effect on people’s lives.

My most favorable interpretation of this election is this: no one supported the person Trump is; they supported him because he was a Rorschach inkblot of indeterminate nothingness onto which they could project the things they wanted, and they were rebelling against a political system that no longer really represents the people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sigh

they supported him because he was a Rorschach inkblot of indeterminate nothingness onto which they could project the things they wanted, and they were rebelling against a political system that no longer really represents the people.

Oh, no. Many of us knew EXACTLY what we were voting for, and determined that Trump, despite his many egregious flaws, was STILL THE LESSER EVIL.

Look on the bright side, the TPP is already dead and the man ain’t even in office yet. He’ll have to work pretty dang hard to screw us over harder than what he saved us from with that.

Add in the fact that he’s already moderated some of his nuttier positions, and we all might end up pleasantly surprised.

TDR says:

Re: Re: Sigh

At the same time, though, there does seem to be a change lately, in the past year or few. I’ve read this blog for years and until recently had never seen you stoop to using profanity. Not trying to be a finger-wagger and I wouldn’t even bring it up otherwise, it’s just that you used to almost never use it regardless of the article or response. It’s like you’ve been losing your composure lately or something. I’m not telling you what you should or shouldn’t do, I was just making an observation. You’ll do what you choose, I just thought you might want to know how you’ve been sounding lately, is all, since changes like that can affect how readers see you and what you say. Text has no tone of voice, so it’s all in the words you choose. How you say something is often as important as what you say. I realize also that this is an opinion site, but it also has a reputation for being accurate, and how those opinions are presented affects how readily people will or may accept them. Just thought you should know.

Longtime TD reader and supporter says:

Re: Re: Sigh

Mike, you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts, like the old saying goes. “Chilling effect” has a particular legal definition and argumentation, and cannot simply be argued however it may be convenient like you do in this article.

While correctly argued in your opinions of Trump’s libel threats, you’ve also erred trying to mangle it to cover pretty much any 100%-First-Amendment-protected stated counterpoints to media reports (“attacking”) or any (B.S.?) claims of negative business performance that politicians may make.

Rather than appearing the proud patriot defending liberty you usually are with the fantastic TD coverage we all love and expect, here you somehow manage to come off as a unfactual whiny hack who somehow managed to miss the grand irony of his own Trump critiques. We know this isn’t your real quality level nor the website you want TD to be, and you are simply burned out from this year’s politics like the rest of us are.

I’m an anti-Trump voter who greatly welcomes his B.S. being called out, but it’s become impossible for me and the apparent majority of TD commenters to not notice some glaringly substandard politics articles this past year. Even a simple opinion piece like this one seems unnecessarily aborted with invalid logic and spurious evidence that seems more ruled by emotion than reason (perhaps in line with the TD swear word increase that other keen commenter observed — about which I otherwise honestly wouldn’t “give a flying fuck”).

Be as callous, snarky, angry, happy, or sad to others as you want to since I 100% agree with you that nobody’s feelings/bubble should be protected as sacred or any coverage off-limits; however, please don’t forget to check that each article has the usual TD diligence that we fans esteem and the polity sorely needs.

Thank you and keep up the good work!

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sigh

Mike, you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts, like the old saying goes. "Chilling effect" has a particular legal definition and argumentation, and cannot simply be argued however it may be convenient like you do in this article.

That’s not true. Chilling effect does not have a special legal definition and argumentation. It’s just a descriptive phrase. And it was used accurately and appropriately here.

While correctly argued in your opinions of Trump’s libel threats, you’ve also erred trying to mangle it to cover pretty much any 100%-First-Amendment-protected stated counterpoints to media reports ("attacking") or any (B.S.?) claims of negative business performance that politicians may make.

What did I get wrong? You say that I’m wrong, but you don’t say how. I never said that Trump was not allowed to say what he said, I pointed out why it was scary and dangerous that he was literally lying about publicly traded companies, something that could adversely impact shareholders. That’s crazy for a President or President-elect to do — and that’s why I was concerned — accurately — about the chilling effects of Trump’s statements.

You don’t explain why they are wrong. You just disagree.

  • here you somehow manage to come off as a unfactual whiny hack*

What facts did I get wrong?

  • apparent majority of TD commenters *

Uh, it’s a very small minority of commenters claiming that, and they’re wrong. What we write about has remained perfectly consistent.

perhaps in line with the TD swear word increase

Similarly, there has been no swear word increase. So, nope.

Thank you and keep up the good work!

I will!

Longtime TD reader and supporter says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sigh

Hey, thanks for the reply Mike, and to address what you said:

“Chilling effect does not have a special legal definition and argumentation. It’s just a descriptive phrase.”

It does in fact, and specifically refers to the consequences of explicitly legal and governmental actions. It doesn’t simply refer to any situation where there could be discouraging negative consequences for speaking your mind. Your mama warning you not to say impolite things lest you get a time out is not a “chilling effect.” Fearing an expensive libel case or government tax investigation prompted in retaliation for protected speech you write on TD definitely is. To clarify with another example, because “due process” has a particular legal argumentation, it would be objectively invalid to argue that a mechanic misbilling you is a “due process” violation.

If I was unclear before, calling either simply spoken/written counterpoints or bad claims (lies?) about business performance “a chilling effect” is objectively invalid given the legal argumentation of the term. It is not simply that people may casually disagree with your ideals here.

As for the status of commenters, I have quickly colored red the commenters someway criticizing your coverage in this complete screenshot ( http://bit.ly/2fjfV84 ) — a clear majority of named accounts (13 criticizing to 8 neutral/favorable) though I disagree with much they say. It’s impractical to do this for every article where this is observed, but by now you have to accept that at the very least it’s not merely a “very small minority of commenters” who feel this way. Perception may not always be reality, but this feeling that a few substandard articles have sneaked there way onto the site this year cannot simply be dismissed as noise or coincidence; it’s worth ruminating.

Again, I want to emphasize that TD’s coverage is mostly great and I am very thankful for TD over the years, and your patriotism for liberty. Just like you, I only want TD to be the best it can be!

Anonymous Coward says:

NYT coverage of the 2016 election process was significantly out of sync with learnings on the Wikileaks side, frequently mischaracterizing information to attack Trump. Across the largest corporate owned media publications we saw a historic low point for journalism as publications became coordinated opinion pieces. Not a fan of Trump but can understand his frustration with the ongoing attack.

Retsibsi (profile) says:

Anyone in public life who fails to consider their response carefully, especially when it will be open to public scrutiny and reply, has an incredibly dangerous habit. Sooner or later something will be said that will have (serious) repercussions.
As President-elect he needs to remember that. Failure to do so will eventually result in disaster. Then he’ll either be quiet or try to respond further by raising the ante. Either way it’ll be too late. Mud will stick and it will be his name people will remember, even if they can’t remember what was actually said and by whom.

josh (user link) says:

stop politics

I have been a long time fan but can’t stand this type of dishonest articles. Unless you acknowledge that all media has an approval rating of about 12% positive. None of the current political media is honest, people only want echo chamber opinions or they have no interest. I enjoys the wonderful tech news here. If it is going to become another trump is the devil site let me know now and I’ll find someplace that would leave me less happy in keeping me updated with tech news.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: stop politics

Unless you acknowledge that all media has an approval rating of about 12% positive.

[Citation needed]

people only want echo chamber opinions or they have no interest. I enjoys the wonderful tech news here. If it is going to become another trump is the devil site let me know now and I’ll find someplace that would leave me less happy in keeping me updated with tech news.

You…don’t even understand the irony of putting those two sentences back-to-back, do you?

Retsibsi (profile) says:

I agree with you. I doubt he’s the least bit concerned about the impact of any of his statements, other than the immediate impact. His entire business career is one of “playing to the gallery” and then walking away from whatever results. But what he seems to fail to realise is that he’s not in that position any more. He doesn’t get to walk away.
(And oh how I wish I was an alien who’s just landed on earth because then I could leave… Anyone got some sleeping pills? That fifty year sleep / coma sounds awfully enticing)

Hans says:

M & M writes “And, yes, I know that there are some folks who just flat out hate the NY Times and think that it lies and such. And I’ve certainly complained my fair share about weak or misleading coverage by the NY Times over the years, but it’s still problematic when a President or President-elect is directly attacking any publication. It creates serious chilling effects on reporters.”

You are completely out of touch with any political
reality. Whether it is your opinion or not, perhaps
your field of expertise is anywhere but the MSM.

The entire industry (MOP) has been aiding and abetting
the Socshevik movements for decades.

There where at least 30 plus reporters meeting with
the Clinton Crime Organization, several months before
the election to get their talking points. The bias is
so bad, that even a child can discern it.

Mr Mike, this is not your finest hour.

Groaker (profile) says:

The NYT may have the right to lie and hide facts. Just like Fox and myriad others. But the warmongering that went on between the NYT and the Iraqi’s, buying the adminstration’s Iraqi lies. The NYT’s willingness to hide Bush’s use of torture and mass surveillance for a year because it might affect the 2004 election (especially after Comey). And other atrocities should forever bar the NYT from rising above green alien invasion stories in the subtabloids.

No American deserves a politician. Their clothes and assets should be stripped from them on entry into a political house, and not returned until the term is over. No more, no less, than when they entered.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s unfair to bulls. Mythbusters tested that one out and it turns out that actual bulls aren’t the types to slam into shelves and break stuff randomly.

Go with perhaps a drunk in a china chop, or a kleptomaniac in a jewelry shop with the cameras turned off and the stock records destroyed, or a politician alone in a room where the sole records of the laws are held instead, that might be more accurate.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Mythbusters test didn’t use a valid model of a china shop, though. They had broad aisles, easily broad enough for the bull to fit through, and nothing actually on the shelves.

An actual china shop, as referenced in the saying, is something more like the one displayed here:

http://www.havilandchina.net/

(Literally the first Google image result for “china shop” without quotes.)

Aisles barely wide enough for one human being to fit through without turning sideways (much less a full-grown bull), packed densely with merchandise, to the point where it’s easy for a loose sleeve (or flicking tail?) to brush something hard enough to knock it off the shelf.

And once the bull does accidentally knock something down, it seems likely that the noise and possible shrapnel might startle the bull enough to instinctively try to move away without taking as much consideration for what may be in the way, thus resulting in more things being knocked over and broken – and the cycle potentially repeats.

Possibly the model of bull behavior I’m using is wrong, and it would still be OK; possibly the bull would just remain standing still, rather than trying to move around in spaces too small for it to fit.

Until the actual experiment is carried out with something more like an actual china shop, however, I remain unconvinced. The Mythbusters experiment was nice, but it was based on an invalid model.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just stop it man...

“but it’s still problematic when a President or President-elect is directly attacking any publication. It creates serious chilling effects on reporters.”

Once again, Micheal pulls transgressions out of his asshole and slings them at his pet-peeve. Trump said they were “wrong”. He didn’t say” “Stop it or else!”, or even just: “Stop it.” YOU stop. Stop making things up.

Anybody every notice that some calls out Mike’s Trump bashing that he doubles-down (or even triples-down) said bashing?

Groaker (profile) says:

The chilling of lawful speech

Mr. Trump has no right to bully the members of this nation. As president-elect, and president to be, he must maintain equanimity in discourse. A trait he has yet to exhibit. A fairness to all — a concept where I find little understanding on his part.

He is not 6 years old, but reputedly an adult. The presidency is not a kingship in which petty spites are to be indulged at whim.

The man has two months to grow up, but I don’t think he will make it.

He may have a certain amount of immunity during his presidency, but should he live through that period it is unlikely he will spend a day out of court.

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