WH official: ‘We’ve looked at’ changing libel laws that would restrict press freedom

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White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the Trump administration has “looked at” changes to libel laws that would curtail press freedoms, but said “whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”

President Trump frequently slams the press for its coverage of him and in March suggested changing libel laws.

Libel is when defamatory statements about someone are published. But the American press enjoys some protection from lawsuits claiming libel because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech rights.

The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws? https://t.co/QIqLgvYLLi

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017

When Priebus was asked by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl if the president would really want to pursue a change in libel laws, the White House chief of staff said it’s been considered.

“I think it’s something that we’ve looked at,” Priebus told Karl in an exclusive interview on “This Week” Sunday. “How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”

Priebus said the media needs “to be more responsible with how they report the news.”

He also addressed another First Amendment issue on flag burning. Priebus hinted that the Trump administration may look at punishing flag burners, as Trump suggested in a tweet during the transition.

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016

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