Donald Trump sent up another dangerous signal that he would rule with an iron hand with a new proposal to enact new powers to sue the press for libel. There are no federal laws which deal with press libel, where all press libel cases are heard at the state level, where those suing need to prove an intent to knowingly publish false and wrongful information. A previous 1964 Supreme Court ruling set the legal parameters by which any press libel case may proceed. The late Justice Scalia was a critic of the 1964 ruling, favoring the opening up of libel laws against newspapers and the press.
A huge danger to the 1st Amendment is the ability of the strong, powerful and wealthy to silence the press through SLAPP-styled lawsuits, which be without any merits, but will cost newspapers huge legal fees to fight in court, thereby quieting opposition and critics.
In recent days, Trump has expressed a willingness to want to use lawsuits to eliminate both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as opposition candidates. It is some of the same strong-arm politics such as critics of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin point to where opposition candidates are limited or eliminated, and the press is biased in favor of Putin, leading to little public opposition and a quasi-dictatorship.
During the Nixon Administration, President Nixon was a huge critic of the free press ability to be critical of the presidency. But, the free press was able to survive, and later reported on the widespread crimes of this administration with Watergate and other illegal conduct and helped to bring down those involved in those crimes, resulting in the conviction of some figures, and the resignation of President Nixon. By comparison, the unelected, but appointed government of President Gerald Ford conducted itself in a honest manner as a reformer government.
Donald Trump only serves to estrange himself from the press when he comes up with outrageous proposals to gut the 1st Amendment or to restrict other freedoms. On the other hand, other eccentric wealthy men such as Ross Perot have fallen short of the presidency, and by comparison, Donald Trump has only proven himself to be far more outrageous, rude and offensive than any major wealthy man who wanted to be president. Conventional wisdom would be that at some point Trump’s antics cost him the White House.