Sunday, June 9, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got the First Amendment backwards again.

Trump vented on Twitter again today, furious over coverage of his Mexican tariff bluff. His anger at the traditional media eventually segued into anger at social media:

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech, doesn't apply to private companies, only government censorship. (For example, Trump was successfully sued in his capacity as President for blocking his critics on Twitter. However, Trump has appealed that decision, arguing that he can ban users if he wants to.)

More to the point, Twitter doesn't banned conservatives. It has, however, cracked down on bots and fake accounts, groups that advocate violence, white nationalistsconspiracy theorists, and bigoted trolls. These categories include a number of prominent Trump supporters hit by Twitter bans, which may be why he thinks of them as "conservative."

Since taking office, Trump has called for government crackdowns against comedy shows that make fun of him, former employees who write books about him, entire television news networks whose coverage isn't flattering enough, and Google, for making it possible to find all of the above with its search engine.

Why is this a problem?

  • It's bad if the president doesn't know literally the first thing in the Bill of Rights.
  • Presidents don't get to dictate what a free press says about them.