Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano exposed the holes in President Donald Trump’s threat to regulate social media platforms like Twitter after the company tagged the president’s tweets with fact-check warnings.
“Can they do this?” Fox News host Sandra Smith asked Napolitano of Twitter’s move on Wednesday.
“The short answer is yes,” Napolitano responded, before adding, “The president is right about the bias in social media and the president is also understandably not happy about his being fact-checked. I mean, nobody would [be].”
“But Twitter is privately owned and publicly held,” he continued, adding: “The First Amendment, which guarantees the freedom of speech and of the press, since it only regulates the government, does not regulate Twitter. So stated differently, Twitter can take down, modify or correct any user it wants ― including the president of the United States.”
On Tuesday, for the first time, Twitter applied fact checks to two of Trump’s tweets, which claimed ― contrary to widespread evidence ― that mail-in ballots lead to voter fraud. Trump responded by accusing Twitter of “stifling free speech,” and on Wednesday, he threatened to shutter or “strongly regulate” social media platforms in retaliation.
Echoing other legal experts, Napolitano predicted it would be a struggle for Trump to follow through on those threats.
“There also would be legal issues if the effort were aimed at silencing someone who has the freedom of speech,” he noted. “I don’t like what they say. But I’ll defend to the death their right to say it. And under a Supreme Court opinion that the president likes, called Citizens United, Twitter has freedom of speech just like you and I and the president himself.”
Check out Napolitano’s full analysis below.
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