Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Trump Is Wrong to Block Media and Voters from Social Media

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Trump Is Wrong to Block Media and Voters from Social Media

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Trump is wrong to block media and voters from social media

--

An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Oct. 4:

At first glance it may not seem so important that the Star's Washington correspondent, Daniel Dale, has been blocked from reading Donald Trump's Twitter feed.

But take a closer look. There are significant issues at stake, including freedom of speech, a free press and their contribution to a strong democracy.

As Dale notes, having access to Trump's tweets is essential to covering U.S. politics. "The White House itself," he says, "has acknowledged that they are policy statements."

Indeed, blocking Dale from seeing the president's tweets is akin to barring a journalist from a news conference.

Trump's tweets are not just bombast. Like other politicians he has turned social media into a public forum, similar to the town hall meetings of old. In fact, for the president they are the most important public forum. He himself has acknowledged that social media is his way of bypassing a largely hostile news media to directly reach his 40 million Twitters followers and the 24 million who follow him on Facebook.

It's not just a free press that's being threatened. The public's democratic rights are in danger, too, since Trump is also blocking citizens whose criticism he dislikes. That's akin to blocking constituents from public meetings, or even stopping someone from reading about political positions and policies simply because of their opinions.

The situation is such a threat to democracy, in fact, that seven of the president's blocked Twitter users launched a lawsuit in July claiming that Trump is violating their First Amendment rights by excluding them from a public forum. The case is considered so pivotal that it is being spearheaded by Columbia University's prestigious Knight First Amendment Institute.

Katie Fallow, senior staff attorney with the institute, argues that the stakes are high. "The First Amendment is in danger," she says, "when an expressive forum is transformed into 'an echo chamber of . …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.