Trump Opening Up Libel Laws Could Prevent Another #GamerGate Fiasco

One of the big topics of discussion lately is that Presidential hopeful Donald Trump took a direct shot at the media for hit-pieces and shoddy journalism, something anyone familiar with #GamerGate should recognize immediately. According to Trump, if he’s elected he would “open up” libel laws to go after outlets that purposefully lie and defame in their articles for the purpose of pushing an agenda.

Politico linked to the short part of the speech where Trump mentioned that he would be “open up” the libel laws in the United States. The clip is below.

PolicyMic on Twitter

Trump says he wants to “open up our libel laws” so he can sue news outlets and “win lots of money.” pic.twitter.com/AeWfSvPfi5

If you’re at work or hearing impaired, Trump stated…

“One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,

 

“You see, with me, they’re not protected because I’m not like other people but I’m not taking money. I’m not taking their money,” […] “We’re going to open up libel laws and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”

This likely comes from the facet of Trump having attempted to sue for libel back in 2006, but the case was dropped due to insufficient evidence, with Trump stating that the libel laws in America were “unfair”, as reported by The New York Times.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot of chatter about the pros and cons of Trump’s latest statements.

On the con side many people noted that big corporations could easily use this to shutdown the press when negative reviews, editorials or detailed think pieces are published that are unflattering toward that company. Others pointed out that politicians could use this as a way to curb negative criticism against them by claiming that the press is libeling them.

However, Trump explicitly says “purposely negative” and “horrible and false articles”. It’s a very strict explanation. A perfect example of this is Caitlin Dewey’s article about Eron Gjoni and the case involving Zoe Quinn at the Washington Post. It was clearly detailed what parts of the article were false. In fact, many of the negative articles about #GamerGate contain easily refutable, purposefully negative falsehoods.

Under the current libel laws someone like Gjoni would have to prove that Dewey wrote the article with malicious intent to defame or publicly harm his reputation, which might result in loss of work, loss of financial stability or loss of well being.

Pursuing a libel case is expensive and difficult in America. As noted by Find Law, if various conditions are met a defamation or libel case can be pursued. Usually it includes injury, a concrete statement that can be cited, a statement that can be proven false and that the individual is unprivileged, in which Find Law describes…

“Lawmakers have decided that you cannot sue for defamation in certain instances when a statement is considered privileged. For example, when a witness testifies at trial and makes a statement that is both false and injurious, the witness will be immune to a lawsuit for defamation because the act of testifying“

Right now journalists have largely gone unchallenged, even when people like Jason Miller – one of the individuals who started the hashtag #NotYourShield to represent minorities – was supposedly fired from his job for having association with #GamerGate. The widely reviled reputation of the hashtag is based on the lies spread by the media that the individuals using the tag were engaged in criminal harassment, as depicted on the Wikipedia page.

At the moment there’s really no recourse for individuals to capably challenge the media who have spread easily identifiable falsehoods, especially when it comes to #GamerGate. From ABC News to the CBC, to NPR, to The Telegraph, to every other big and small media outlet out there, these outlets are protected under the First Amendment law, even if what they’re publishing is clearly false.

The upside to opening up the libel laws where purposeful hit-pieces are made for no other reason than to spread misinformation – like the Washington Post piece about #GamerGate and Eron Gjoni – could allow for individuals to challenge the media to either correct their ways or pay a heavy fine for engaging in defamation.

GamerGate

Just recently a non-judicial media institution in Quebec, Canada, known as the Quebec Press Council, recently defended a hit-piece published in 2014 by French-Canadian outlet Urbania. They stood by the lies published in that piece and basically closed the case citing that there was nothing wrong with the inaccuracies or misinformation spread by the editor-in-chief, Eric Samson.

If the libel laws were to work as they were intended (and that’s a serious long shot), then websites and publications who are caught misconstruing facts or actively abetting in conspiring to cover-up corruption, could turn from their ways due to being scared straight from a potential libel suit. They might even put in the effort in making sure that their pieces are fact-checked and that they aren’t going out of their way to harm individuals the way most major outlets have optioned to do when reporting on #GamerGate.

To think, many of those outlets may have second guessed calling Gjoni, and others using the #GamerGate banner, harassers if they knew that potentially costing people their jobs or misrepresenting the facts could earn them a serious libel suit.

Of course, the flip-side is that there’s no mention from Trump about what would happen in the case of satire? Sites like The Onion have become notorious for taking jabs at famous and non-famous people alike using humor as their weapon of choice, the same thing with sites like Cracked. Also, what about interviews where someone says something purely false but it’s printed in an article that appears to construe it as fact? Would those sites be subject to the “opened up” libel laws as well?

There’s obviously a lot of questions left unanswered, but regardless of what anyone thinks of Republican candidate Donald Trump, he’s at least addressing an elephant in the room that has caused insurmountable damage over the years by reckless and irresponsible news reporting.

(Main image courtesy of Kukuruyo)

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14 thoughts on “Trump Opening Up Libel Laws Could Prevent Another #GamerGate Fiasco

  1. If well made these laws would be great for stomping corrupt agenda pushers, but if they are too broad they could become a tool for censorship

    1. Totally agreed. Censorship is already a hot topic and the last thing we need is a corporatcracy not only pushing sponsored content through major media outlets but also brandishing them as pariahs when content surfaces they don’t like, and have them sued into oblivion.

      1. If Trump becomes President, hopefully he gets people to make sure that it has clear, precise language on when and how it can and cannot be used.

    2. I’d take my chances.

      I’d argue we already live in a state where censorship and its equally nasty cousin, missinformation, already run rampant and there is nothing stopping them. And this would put an end to those two, on some degree.

      Sure this can lead to censorship but that is on its worst case scenario, compared to the reality we’ve got now.

      To put in videogame terms, they’d have to buff the hell out of those law mechanisms to make them strong enough that they’d become a threat.
      Right now they are toothless and that’s clearly not working well for anyone.

  2. They’ve all been trying to shut down and ridicule Trump the whole time. There’s no way they’d let him change any of the things that let them continue their BS.

  3. As if people needed more proof he is the real anti establishment candidate.

    Libel is a prime crybully technique and one of the main tools of the SJW oppressors.

    They rampantly publish information they know to be fake, information anyone can (and we do) constantly show is fake, information we can prove they know is fake. Information meant to damage the reputation of others because they can’t argue the facts so they instead shoot down the messengers one by one.

    An anti libel law would strengthen ethics for everyone.

    1. I don’t think you understand what’s being proposed and how it will work. Trump is the quintessential Establishment insider crony corporatist who seeks to have no one able to criticize him unless they have a fat wallet to defend his lawfare attacks. This will not help gamers; it will make things even harder for gamers and solidify power in the hands of those favored organizations that act as Goebbels to Fuehrer Trump.

      1. Trump has been consistently subject to organized smear campaigns from both sides left and right since the beginning, he’s openly called out the media as liars and many political analysts expect a rupture of the republican party once he is nominated because the establishment is so vehemently against him.

        He can be many things, but part of the establishment is not one of them.

        What he was subject to is a very strong parallel to the gamergate situation as seen during the “gamers are dead” fiasco or during the constant articles of blatant lies the mainstream gaming media keeps publishing to attack its critics.

        I do not know the specifics of what he’d actually do but what he is vaguely alluding to, a means to bite back at those that deliberately publish harmful lies, is something that we can clearly see is very very much needed right now in these times where the mainstream media has practically mutated into a single entity with a single opinion allowed, and which entirely relies on personal attacks with lies to silence and censor any opposition.

        He isn’t talking of cases where people disagreed with him, or were rude or mean to him, he is referring to people putting words in his mouth, saying he did X which he didn’t, etc.
        Those things shouldn’t even happen if there were journalistic standards and ethics, but there aren’t, so they keep happening.
        There’s a real need for this.

      2. See my other comment below because it covers most of why you’re very wrong about Trump and his use of crybully tactics to silence dissent. He threatened to sue Cruz for an ad which merely rolled tape of Trump’s own words which exposed his flip-flopping and late-life supposed conversion to being a “Republican”. Cruz is an accomplished lawyer, called his bluff, and Trump had to skulk away.

        The myth among the ignorant that Trump scares the Establishment is his greatest trick; like Keyser Soze’s line about the Devil’s greatest trick.

        Think of it this way: Imagine there was a country called Gamertopia with an elected President. The leading candidates are a guy who promises free games for all paid for by making rich people pay more for MS+/Gold; a woman whose husband was a President decades ago (who gets credited for the N64 and PSX when he was just the guy serving at the time) but has been stealing user account info and selling it for personal profit; a guy who thinks gaming has drifted from its roots and needs to get back to basics like split-screen MP; and others.

        Along comes a woman who has done nothing for gamers, has actually made her fortune off of demonizing and attacking gamers, has used her position of privilege to the power elite to silence opponents and reap more money, but now claims she wants to fight for the little guy and Make Gamertopia Great Again by building a big firewall to keep out those nasty Korean gamers who take away championships from Gamertopians.

        So confronted with the massive support for Anita Sarkeesian, a whole lot of Gamertopians freak the f*ck out, rightfully pointing out her lifelong opposition to them, and people like you will step up and say you totally support her because “the Establishment” is freaking out because she’ll end selling betas as finished games and season passes despite no evidence of doing anything but the opposite in the past, merely on her say so now.

        Get it? Probably not.

      3. Trump is a moron who got his money by his parents. He has no idea wtf he is doing nor is he logical. The media barely even cover his politics. He only wants to prevent people from criticizing due to his ego. Say he gets elected he will step down after a while thanks to being bored.

        He is a star not a politician.

  4. Trump is a massive crybully and he would use these powers to chill all speech which he disapproved of. Look at how he was howling that he was going to sue Ted Cruz for libel over ads which consisted of clips of Trump saying things. Because of campaign ad that quoted his own words, he screamed like Briana Wu that Cruz was lying and he was going to sue if he didn’t take down the ads in South Carolina.

    Problem with this line of attack is that Cruz was the Solicitor General of Texas with a 9-0 record arguing cases before the Supreme Court and he held a press conference where he basically said, “COME AT ME, BITCH!!!” promising that he’d depose Trump himself. Suddenly, like all bullies do when hit back, Trump ran away and never sued.

    I get the appeal of the idea of having the ability to make lying corrupt journalists pay for their sins, but anyone who thinks this is what will happen is delusional. Our already litigation-clogged courts will be flooded with every butthurt snowflake wanting money for their feels. You think college campuses are warzones of crybullies now, losing their sh*t over Milo’s tour, wait until every blog and Tumblr gets sued because muh feels. (Ralph Retort will be nuked on the first day.)

    Also, the Big Boys who are slandering gamers – the NY Times, The Washington Post, Gawker, Vox Media – have tons of money and stables full of litigators on retainer who would tie down any serf who dared seek redress. And who is going to represent these libel suits on contingency for the years they’ll take? Look at how miserable it was for Eron’s restrainer order case.

    Sorry, but the reality of Fuehrer Trump’s proposal is that big rich crybullies will be able to threaten the media into self-censoring and end citizen journalism. Do you think Milo wouldn’t have been nailed for exposing GJPs? The victims of Big Media smearing will have to wait years and go broke in hopes of getting their good names back and at best they’ll win a grudging retraction and costs, but if you think John and Jane Q Gamer are going to bring down the evil aGGro houses, you need to put down the bong.

    Hulk Hogan has been fighting Gawker for years and he’s Hulk F*cking Hogan, a megastar for over three decades. No way does Eron Gjoni have an easier go of it.

    TL;DR: Trump is seeking to have massive authoritarian powers to back up his crybullying. Little people will still be smeared and will have to fight Big Media for years at great cost and little reward for being libeled. Nothing will improve; everything will get much worse. The First Amendment is voided.

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