President Trump’s assault on Twitter is an attack on the First Amendment
President Donald Trump’s ongoing assault against Twitter may represent the most egregious violation of the First Amendment by a president since Richard M. Nixon went to war against this newspaper almost half a century ago. Not since the McCarthy era has our country experienced such an effort to neuter the press and evade the government accountability that comes only through meaningful reporting. Consider what could lie ahead.
On May 28 came an executive order that proclaimed: “Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet.” This presidential order brought the federal government’s full power — the Justice Department, the Commerce Department, the FCC and the executive office of the president— to bear against Twitter. Unlike other public attacks by the president, which sometimes recede without subsequent action, there is no doubt about the threat being realized.
No matter what you think of Twitter, social media companies or the applicable regulations, and no matter your political affiliation, everyone with a voice should speak out against the president’s actions. In particular, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and his fellow commissioners should be watched closely. Will they simply do what the president asks?
[Lee C. Bollinger is president of Columbia University and the author of several books on freedom of expression and the First Amendment. Donald E. Graham is a former publisher of The Post.]
Trump’s assault on Twitter is an attack on the First Amendment