The events over the last few days have been as surreal as any election ever held. The Republican nominee for President of the United States was greeted with five separate stories of sexual assault allegations from five separate news organizations.
— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) October 13, 2016
By night’s end, that number would be up to nine.
Trump’s first response was to first lash out at the female New York Times reporter who called him for comment, threatening her and screaming that she was a “disgusting human being.” His second response was to get his lawyers to draft a lawsuit threat and send one of the biggest newspapers in the country a cease-and-desist letter.
Lawyers representing Trump demand a retraction from the New York Times: pic.twitter.com/1scjBSPkv7
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) October 13, 2016
The threat was laughable. Trump’s argument was that the paper was committing libel by reporting on the story. He suggested women who accused him of sexual misconduct should be censored, ignored, and silenced. He demanded a retraction and an apology.
Instead, the New York Times gave him a middle finger and a dare: Bring it on.
In a fiery response to Trump’s lawyers, the New York Times said there would be no retraction or apology. They stand by the reporting. They also expressed disbelief that Trump could seriously say these reports were hurting his reputation. After all, Trump is the one who – on tape – bragged about sexually assaulting women.
The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.
The burn of the century.
The Times, noting the sheer lunacy of torching the First Amendment because Trump had his feelings hurt, offered one final parting shot at Trump:
If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.
Featured image via David Becker/Getty Images