Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said Tuesday that the real threat to the First Amendment in the 2016 election had come from Democrats, not from Donald Trump — and that the media had largely missed the threat because of their own partisan bias.
Speaking to the Business Insider IGNITION conference in New York City, Bewkes pointed out that the Democratic Party “had a campaign plank to change the First Amendment, and they were doing it in the guise of campaign finance reform.”
Indeed, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ran on an explicit pledge to change the First Amendment in order to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which held that free speech extended to unions and corporations.
The Democratic Party’s 2016 platform, adopted at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, pledged: “Democrats support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo.”
And as Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel pointed out in her book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, Clinton and her party had engaged in a variety of other practices aimed at silencing political rivals.
In contrast, Trump had an adversarial relationship with the press, and said that he would like to see American libel laws liberalized to make it harder for the media to publish inaccurate stories, but never threatened to change the First Amendment.
Bewkes told the Business Insider conference that the media had largely ignored Clinton’s threat to free speech: “The press tends to miss that because they tend to lean that way, and therefore they were supporting what they were viewing — I think overly charitably — as something in cleaning up money in politics when in fact what it would do is restrain multiple voices.”
Bewes added that he was more worried about the Democrats’ hostility to the First Amendment than any effort by Republicans. “There’s not going to be a serious effort on the Republican side,” he predicted.
Bewkes and Time Warner oversee CNN, a network at odds with Trump throughout the campaign.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.