Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about a recent op-ed posted at the Lawfare blog by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.). You should remember him from the first impeachment of President Trump. When you read his ideas, remember that this man swore an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Well, evidently he never read it or he forgot the First Amendment.
The article reports:
During the impeachment inquiry, Vindman made much of the fact that he and his family had fled the Soviet Union, and that he had “a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom.”
Now, lamenting that he had not responded by suing President Trump over tweets about him, and noting that the First Amendment “gravely” limits what government can do to stop “lies” by the media, Vindman argues that “right-wing media” (alone) should be held accountable through a lawsuit strategy:
The article includes some excerpts from his op-ed:
Recent events have made the need for accountability more pressing than ever. Should anyone be surprised that viewers of right-wing media are radicalized when media personalities themselves promote radical ideas based on lies?
But while the rioters are being held accountable through the criminal justice system—and Congress at least had a chance to hold the former president accountable through the impeachment process—how can Americans hold the right-wing media responsible for its role in the attack? The mob that attacked the Capitol was born of hatred fomented by the right-wing media. These insurrectionists were raised for years on a steady diet of disinformation and half-truths, which produced the fertile fields for radicalization.
The First Amendment gravely limits the available tools to seek accountability for the right-wing media. Policymakers cannot, after all, tell media organizations what to say. Except in the most extreme situations, which are unlikely ever to arise, prosecutors also cannot accuse them of incitement.
Civil consequences, rather than governmental restrictions on First Amendment rights, could be a meaningful way to take what are fundamentally money-making ventures and demand truth from them, instill rigor in their reporting, and uphold accountability. Like a tabloid being sued and paying severe penalties, media companies and right-wing media personalities will claim that what’s at stake is freedom of speech. But defamation is not covered by the First Amendment, so this is, by definition, not true. And the generous standards in defamation law for purposes of protecting the press offer a true safe haven for good-faith actors even when they err. Putting companies in fear of the real costs in civil damages for slander, libel, and false claims that can cumulatively incite violence and that can individually harm actual human beings should have a restraining effect on their behavior.
In case you have forgotten, no one has linked anything in the conservative media to any violence. The right wing media has not been proven to have told any lies while the left-wing media has recently been forced to retract many of its statements. Who can forget the picture of the left-wing anchor standing in front of a city burning and claiming that the protest involved was ‘mostly peaceful?’ The Washington Post recently had to retract an article that was stated as fact in President Trump’s second impeachment trial. Much of what the left-wing media has decried as ‘fake news’ regarding the 2020 election has been subsequently proven to be true.