Let our next greatest achievement be realizing the dream of full equality for all of us ...

- Human Rights Campaign President, Alphonso David, as reported by Maiysha Kai -

Advertisement

Your President Doesn’t Understand the 1st Amendment or What the Senate Intelligence Committee Does

President Donald Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

Early Thursday morning, your president got on Twitter and demonstrated to the American people that he doesn’t understand how the First Amendment works, and he has no clue what the function of the Senate Intelligence Committee is.

Advertisement

Donald Trump wrote, “Why isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!”

Advertisement

Trump is referring to the same Senate Intelligence Committee that is in the middle of a long investigation looking into determining whether or not he played a role in the Russian-directed hacking and propaganda campaign that was meant to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

The committee announced at a news conference Wednesday that it agrees with the American intelligence agencies that say Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s campaign. The committee has not yet reached a conclusion on whether or not Trump played a part in that plot.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican senator representing North Carolina, told reporters, “The issue of collusion is still open.”

These types of investigations are the reason the Senate Intelligence Committee was created. The Senate created the committee in 1976 to basically be the watchdog of the intelligence community. Lawmakers did not create the committee to investigate the news media at the whim of an egomaniacal president who takes it as a slight anytime the news media accurately reports on something questionable that he has said or done.

Advertisement

Besides, there is that whole First Amendment thing, which guarantees us the freedom of the press. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

If Trump could actually prove that he was being maliciously defamed by a media organization, there would be legal courses of action he could take, none of which involve the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Advertisement

Besides, Trump himself could be seen as bending the truth, if we are being fair.

On Wednesday afternoon, NBC News published a report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been ready to quit his job over the summer and had openly disparaged Trump by calling him “a moron” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon.

Advertisement

Tillerson did not deny calling Trump a moron, and at a press conference he gave shortly after the NBC story ran, he said, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.”

But Trump took that and ran with it, writing on Twitter, “The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!”

Advertisement

The story was not totally refuted; Tillerson did no such thing. Should Tillerson sue Trump for spreading lies about him?

Advertisement

A short time later, Trump followed up that tweet with another that read, “Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.”

Advertisement

Is Trump saying that the only good news stories are ones that are verified by him? That kinda sounds like propaganda to me, but what do I know?

As a member of the press, I think it is important that we pay attention to how often Trump throws out these messages about the media.

Advertisement

His base includes a segment of the population that believes anything he says. Even when he is not being honest and it can be proved (as in this case) that what he says and what really happened don’t match, they believe it. This creates a dangerous situation in which his message can become their message.

Attacks on the media are an attempt on Trump’s part to silence the media. The news media is not a public relations firm for the president.

Advertisement

The news media and journalists are the watchdogs of society. We are here to tell you what is going on and to hold the government and politicians and anyone else accountable when they fall short.

Calling for the media to be investigated just because you don’t like that they tell the people every ignorant thing you do is not very presidential.

Advertisement

But then again, neither is Donald Trump.

Read more at the New York Times and NBC News.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

cmallen
C.M. Allen

Let’s be honest here: Our President Doesn’t Understand Anything. He’s a mediocre student at best, a failure of a businessman, and a pathetic investor. His understanding of anything is as limited as his coherence — preschool-level. His only real ‘worth’ is the fortune his father gave him, and by some small miracle, he hasn’t managed piss it all away due to his own incompetence. Had he been born to any average American citizen instead, nobody would have ever known his name. He’d have slaved away at dirt wages, and never amounted to anything. Because he’s useless.