The New York Times can’t cower behind their very own court precedent this time, because they had a “malicious motive.” A former NYT editor intentionally lied in a 2019 opinion article, asserting that the Trump campaign had a back-room deal with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The New York Times knew his statements were lies but they printed them anyway, specifically to illegally tilt the 2020 election. That’s called “actual malice” and means that the campaign can sue for libel, so they did.
Malicious editors dropped their legal ‘shield’
New York Times editors are smugly aware they can print lies any time they want to, so they do. The way the First Amendment is interpreted, in the case of New York Times v. Sullivan, even statements that are false can be published as long as the publication was not done with “actual malice.” The complaint alleges “The Times was aware of the falsity at the time it published them, but did so for the intentional purpose of hurting the campaign, while misleading its own readers in the process,” Jenna Ellis, the campaign’s lead attorney notes. That spells malicious. The statements were and are 100 percent false and defamatory
What they can’t do is publish articles with the “desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.” They also can’t “commit an unlawful act or cause harm.” Those things demonstrate “malice.” This time, they crossed the line in their “exuberance to improperly influence the presidential election in November 2020.” What Max Frankel wrote shows “extreme bias against and animosity toward the campaign,” their lawyers say. As spelled out in a draft copy of the suit, released by President Donald Trump’s campaign, accuses the Times of a “malicious motive” in their “reckless disregard for the truth.”
Frankel intentionally lied in his March 27, 2019, opinion article, suggesting “Russia and the campaign had an overarching deal in the 2016 U.S. election.” In the hit piece, Frankel wrote, “There was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy because they had an overarching deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions. The Trumpites knew about the quid and held out the prospect of the quo.”
The New York Times, President Trump said, “got a lot wrong over the last number of years.” He plans to let the lawyers do their jobs and “let the lawsuit work its way through the courts.” It’s only the first of many. “There’ll be more coming.” He plans to hold the Times “accountable for intentionally publishing false statements.” What’s their motto again? “We print the news that gives you fits?” Something like that.