How long upon being in office will “Archie Bunker” Trump wait before stifling the press?

Perhaps the first move an authoritarian leader makes as he begins to solidify power is to stifle freedom of the press. Donald John Trump has already been hard at work laying the groundwork for such a move throughout his campaign, ridiculing and attacking the press in general (and many reporters specifically) in front of his adoring fans. So the skids for shutting down the nation’s main avenue for free expression are already well greased.

It will likely come in his first hundred days and his ace in the hole will be Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one who is no lover of a freedom for all style of democracy. And according to legal scholars Sessions will have the power to arrest individuals of the press as he sees fit to do so. This despite the First Amendment of the Constitution being quite specific as to the freedom of the press — “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

But as Trump will likely move quickly to appoint Supreme Court judges favorable to his agenda, any case moving before the court would likely not be favorably interpreted as to what is currently the informal understand of the press’s special role for questioning power. Of course as Trump’s control of the levers of power grows ever stronger such legal niceties will be easily brushed aside as just so much elitist nonsense.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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