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?