Sonja R. West


The goals of this short Article are modest. It seeks simply to differentiate the various ways Trump has attacked the press, to emphasize that we should not view them all through the same constitutional lens, and to bring attention to the most serious type of offense. In Part I, I divide the kinds of attacks into three categories of increasing seriousness. I discuss a number of examples in which Trump has used insults, generalized threats, denials of benefits, and government power to punish the press for coverage he dislikes. Then, in Part II, I analyze each type of attack under current First Amendment law. Unsurprisingly, it is Trump’s attempts to employ the power of the federal government to retaliate against the press that raise the most troubling constitutional concerns.

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