Donald Trump deserves credit for sitting for an interview on Monday with the Washington Post editorial board, “people who have mercilessly attacked him,” according to one of its members, columnist Ruth Marcus. It takes a big man. (More on his size to follow.)
What struck me about the transcript was no single piece of news, because there wasn’t a major breakthrough, but rather what emerged from the whole: a vexing personality and policy profile. (Read the full transcript here.)
Trump has a Clinton-sized victim’s complex
“I’ve been treated very, very badly by The Washington Post,” he whined. “I’ve had stories written about me—by your newspaper and by others—that are so false, that are written with such hatred—I’m not a bad person.” When you read the transcript, you’ll notice that Trump conflates criticism with inaccuracy. Surrounded by yes-men and yes-woman his entire professional life, born into great wealth and ego, Trump doesn’t seem to accept the criticism that comes with public life. If a journalist reports something negative about him, it must be wrong.
President Trump would seek to shield himself against criticism
He told the newspaper that ousted Richard Nixon he would loosen libel laws. Trump would make it easier to punish journalists who malign him. As Marcus wrote, today’s legal standards for the media are designed to protect the First Amendment from an invasion of libel lawyers. “Erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate,” Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote in a landmark 1964 case, and “must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the ‘breathing space’ that they ‘need … to survive.’”