Priebus: Trump Could Take Action Against Fake News

White House chief of staff says changing libel laws 'something that we've looked at'

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Sunday the administration has examined the possibility of taking action against publications like The New York Times for their false reporting about the president.

In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” host Jonathan Karl referenced a March tweet from President Trump in which the president suggested a willingness to change libel laws: “The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?”

“Is he really going to pursue that?” Karl asked Priebus. “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is another story,” Priebus responded.

“You have articles out there that have no basis in fact.”

“Fake news” in the mainstream media has long drawn the ire of President Trump and his administration. The New York Times is a particularly favorite target of Trump’s; indeed, he tweeted against the “failing @nytimes” on over 50 occasions. But it’s not difficult to understand why the Trump administration maintains such a hostile stance towards the mainstream media.

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Throughout the campaign, and even after the election, a number of potentially damaging and unsubstantiated reports about Trump and his campaign associates were published, including tales of everything from clandestine conspiracies with Russian spies to scandalous liaisons with prostitutes in Moscow hotel rooms.

“You have articles out there that have no basis in fact, and we’re sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters,” said Priebus before Karl cut him off.

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“You really think [Trump] should be able to sue The New York Times?” Karl asked incredulously. “Here’s the thing,” said Priebus. “I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news.”

“I said this is something that is being looked at, how it gets executed, where we go with it … that’s another issue,” said Priebus.

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