Trump appears to oppose free speech
© Getty Images

Nazi Germany made sure its media amounted to little more than government-exalting propaganda.

The Chinese government, earlier this year, threw a journalist in jail for having the audacity to leak pro-democracy, pro-free speech, pro-civil rights content.


So how much of a concern is it that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE banned The Des Moines Register, an Iowa newspaper, from one of his campaign events because he didn’t agree with an editorial? Or that his public outbursts about questions he was asked during the first Republican primary debate have enabled The Donald to influence how the network will treat him moving forward? Or that Fox has apparently agreed to cater to Trump’s biased standards over how to appropriately cover his campaign?

It all started when the Register, a daily newspaper, printed an editorial on July 21 calling some of Trump’s comments, particularly those about immigrants and Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly releases Spanish ad featuring Rep. Gallego More than 300 military family members endorse Biden Jennifer Lawrence says until Trump she was 'a little Republican' MORE’s (R-Ariz.) war record, “disgraceful,” and deriding the real estate magnate as a “feckless blowhard.”

“By using his considerable wealth, his celebrity status, and his mouth to draw attention to himself, rather than to raise awareness of the issues facing America,” the Register’s editorial said, “he has coarsened our political dialogue and cheapened the electoral process.”

The paper also said Trump is “not only unfit to hold office, but unfit to stand on the same stage as his Republican opponents.”

The Donald’s response? Denying a press credential to a Des Moines Register reporter for a July 25 event in which he was scheduled to make an appearance, according to a statement released by the paper. According to the Register, Trump’s national campaign manager confirmed that the press credential was withheld because of the editorial.

For a free, democratic society, inhibiting the media can lead to a slippery slope. If Trump were to become president, is he going to ban from the White House all media outlets that produce content he doesn’t agree with?

“When the public's right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk,” former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd (D) once said, “all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.”

Perhaps even more egregiously, Trump lashed out at Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after Kelly, during the first Republican primary debate, asked him about his history of calling women names such as “pigs” and “fat slobs.” It was definitely a question that begged to be asked of a presidential candidate who did, in fact, say those things.

But The Donald threatened to abstain from any future Fox News debate because he “didn’t think they were fair,” he told CNN. The Sunday after the debate, Trump conspicuously excluded Fox when he granted several phone interviews to T.V. news shows, several other news outlets pointed out.

Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox, tweeted two days after the debate: “Friend Donald has to learn this is public life.”

Exactly. After a lifetime leading a private company, Trump, as long as he’s running for public office, has to learn that he can’t insulate himself with sycophants and suck-ups. A president of a free, democratic society can’t bully the press into submission every time it asks him a tough question or writes something he doesn’t like.

The prospect of being left out of the Trump ratings extravaganza, however, was too grave of a consequence for Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News. The two reportedly had a conversation about the network’s handling of Trump; The Donald tweeted that Ailes promised he would be “treated fairly.”

The bottom line: Trump, whose definition of “fairly” becomes more capricious and opaque with each passing day, became the arbiter over how a major news network editorializes his campaign. His opponents don’t have that luxury, and, if America truly is a democracy, neither should he.

Herbert Hoover, 31st president of the United States, once said: “It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power, each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.”

So how can America seriously consider a presidential candidate who’s bent on subduing any speech he doesn’t agree with?

Harold is a freelance journalist.