Saturday, 6 January 2018

USA media seems to be unsupportive of President Trump's legal attempt to stop publication of "Fire and Fury" book; Reciprocal discovery issue may stop Trump from filing defamation lawsuit

I spent a lot of time over the past few hours going through USA print and TV media reaction to USA President Trump's legal threat to the publisher and author of the "Fire and Fury" book. [Readers who have not read my previous post on this, may want to do so. Here's that post: "'Fire and Fury' book with Steve Bannon & others' quotes that viciously attack USA President Trump; Trump furiously takes down Bannon; Trump lawyer's very strong legal threat to publisher and author", http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2018/01/fire-and-fury-book-with-steve-bannon.html.]

I saw some print and TV media reactions that were very critical of President Trump's legal threat to the publisher (Henry Holt & Co.) and author, Michael Wolff, asking them to "cease and desist" from publishing the book, failing which they would face a lawsuit. But in my Internet based browsing I did not come across any USA media report, print or TV, that argued that it was fair for USA President Trump to legally threaten the publisher with a libel and related charges lawsuit if the book was published (and the excerpts were not retracted)!

Hmm. I find it strange that there is no visible support in USA media for Mr. Trump's right to legally challenge publication of material that Trump and Trump's legal team view as libellous. I am not saying that they should support Trump's view that the book has libellous content. That must be determined by a USA court of law. It is certainly possible that in a court of law, the author and publisher would be able to show evidence for statements that Trump deems as libel (false statements that hurt his character-image) and thereby successfully defend themselves against the libel lawsuit.

I am now getting the impression that the culture and traditions in USA today are that political leaders, especially the President, should NOT sue USA citizens and publishing houses for libel against him. I think this is a big difference from how it is in India. I can't imagine any Indian author and any Indian publishing house publish a noted book or excerpts of a yet-to-be published noted book (marginal and virtually unknown books are a different matter), that is anywhere close to being as viciously critical of India's sitting Prime Minister (I don't mean only the current PM; I mean any sitting PM) as 'Fire and Fury' excerpts are of Mr. Trump. I don't think that has happened in the past two or three decades in India.

Here is an interesting article: Why Trump won’t sue to stop Wolff, Bannon or the tell-all publisher, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/why-trump-won-t-sue-stop-wolff-bannon-or-tell-n834961, 5th Jan. 2018

The article's view is that the "cease and desist" (C&D) legal letters are an inexpensive tactic which may scare small publishing houses and individuals to stop their publications rather than risk a lawsuit.

But it goes on to say, "Still, a C&D letter sent by a sitting president alleging defamation of the holder of the most important public office in the world is unprecedented."

It states that President Trump's legal move may only be a bluff. As President, Mr. Trump enjoys a lot of immunity from lawsuits for damages but if he files the defamation lawsuit, it may bring him under the jurisdiction of the courts.

The article then talks of "reciprocal discovery" which would come into play if President Trump files a defamation lawsuit against the publisher and author (defendants), where President Trump would have to face court orders initiated by the defendants' side to disclose anything related to the lawsuit. This "reciprocal discovery" issue, the article says, may be the "real reason" why Mr. Trump will not proceed with a defamation lawsuit against the publisher and author of this book.

[I thank nbcnews.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me providing a paraphrased summary of parts of their article mentioned above, on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

No comments:

Post a Comment