Monday, May 16, 2016
Writing for the Boston Globe, Michael Cohen argues that Donald Trump has, in various remarks about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, given us a preview of an authoritarian regime. Trump notes that Bezos owns a newspaper that has run negative stories about him, and assumes that Bezos has ordered it to do so. His response as Chief Executive won't be to prove them wrong, but to both abuse libel law and invent new anti-trust abuses to go after Bezos:
Back in February, Trump said about Amazon "if I become president, oh do they have problems. They're going to have such problems." It was a charge he repeated this week. "He [Bezos] bought this paper for practically nothing," said Trump, "and he's using that as a tool for political power against me and against other people ... and we can't let him get away with it."I agree with Cohen that such threats disqualify Trump for the presidency, and will not vote for this man. Whatever arguments there might be that he might be less likely to further tax or regulate the economy than Clinton would be are rendered moot by his threat to freedom of speech, which we absolutely need in order to see our way out of and leave the current cultural and political mess. I am not calling Clinton a champion of freedom of speech by a long shot, but at least nobody will be calling her a champion of free enterprise, either.
He also talked about changing libel laws to make it easier to sue newspapers. But his talk about Bezos is something else altogether. What he's hinting at is that he would use the anti-trust division of the Justice Department to go after a newspaper publisher who writes stories that he doesn't like.
This is a direct threat. And even if Trump has no intention of following through, he is clearly trying to intimidate Bezos and in turn The Washington Post from running negative stories about him. Indeed, Trump is trying to get Bezos to use his position as owner of the paper to influence the Post's coverage. [my emphasis, and other format edits]