Donald Trump lost the popular vote by more than 6.25 million ballots. Court rulings, recounts, and state certifications have confirmed the Republican received just 232 votes out of 306 for Democrat Joe Biden. Despite Trump’s false claim “The 2020 election was a total fraud,” he says on his way out of office.
Unfortunately, a slow transition process can allow Lame Duck presidents to wreak havoc in the two and a half months between Election Day in November and Inauguration Day in January, and Trump is already at it. However, the greatest danger posed by the soon-to-be former president could be the honest discourse that remains the lifeblood of American democracy: a free press.
Trump’s presidency can be understood as a four-year attack on journalism in which he attacked individual reporters, newspapers, and television news networks with an anger that was evident on Thanksgiving when he held a disrupted press conference – while sitting at a “children’s table” desk – and started ranting in response to a question from Reuters’ White House correspondent Jeff Mason about when Trump could finally admit his loss. “Don’t talk to me like that” raged Trump. “You’re just a lightweight. Don’t talk to me [like] that – I am the President of the United States. Never talk to the president like that. “
Trump’s tantrum sparked a mocking Twitter hashtag – # DiaperDon – high on social media, embarrassing the selfish president to such an extent that he snapped and raged – wrongly: “Twitter sends out completely wrong” trends “that have absolutely nothing to do with what is really trending in the world. They make it up and only negative “things”. ” Then he tweeted something that should unsettle anyone who understands the role of social media in modern political communication: “For national security reasons, section 230 must be terminated immediately !!!”
Section 230, drafted by Congress in 1996, states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service may be treated as the publisher or spokesperson of information provided by any other information content provider.” As the Electronic Frontier Foundation explained“It protects websites from legal liability for the materials that users post on their platforms. Section 230 also gives those sites the The leeway they need Moderate content that violates their community standards. ”
Trump doesn’t like this moderationhow it identifies its lies. In July, the Trump administration moved to the Federal Communications Commission – where a 3-2 Republican majority has often cast the presidential bids – requesting that the commissioners work out a rule that could protect Section 230 . It’s incredibly dangerous.
“If the FCC approves the administration’s proposal, no websites or platforms can set their own standards for their online communities.” explained Gaurav Laroia, the senior lawyer for the grassroots media and democracy group Free Press. “It would seriously jeopardize the ability of marginalized groups to organize and express their views without the government forcing them to include racist and sexist intruders in every conversation. It would leave the sites with no choice but to drown in posts from bigots, propagandists, conspiracy theorists, and trolls. ”
Vigilance will be needed on every front to lessen the damage Trump can do before January 20th. However, defenders of the honest discourse that underpins democracy should pay particular attention to the threat posed by the prospect of Trump’s FCC henchmen reacting to a president’s fit of spades through the plan to undermine social media’s ability to Shouting out the President’s lies.