Donald Trump stepped up his reckless attacks against the media this week by suing The New York Times and well-respected journalist Max Frankel.
The libel lawsuit filed in New York's Supreme Court by the president's re-election campaign claims that Frankel's 2019 op-ed article in the Times titled "The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo" was false in asserting that Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. The newspaper published the article while knowing it was false, the suit claims.
In targeting the Times and the 89-year-old Frankel, Trump directly strikes at media legitimacy. With all of its shortcomings, The Times stands as the nation's most reliable news operation. Frankel, who served the Times as executive editor, editorial page editor and foreign correspondent, gained renown as one of the Times' wise men who set the standard for American journalism. The suit's main purpose is to intimidate the news media from criticizing Trump.
ProPublica President Richard Tofel and the now Trump-supporting National Review agree on the suit's lack of merit. Expressions of opinion are protected by the First Amendment, and the Times in publishing the article followed long-established legal standards.
But Trump has vowed to weaken news operations' libel protections. The suit is an escalation of his efforts to undermine American journalism.