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?
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: campaign ads, cease & desist, defamation, donald trump, false light, first amendment, free speech, hillary clinton


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    David, 7 Nov 2016 @ 1:20pm

    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.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.