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CEO DATELINE – Authors, publishers shoot back at Trump attempt to block book

Jan. 12, 2018
By Walt Williams

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Two groups representing authors and publishers are blasting President Donald Trump for a cease-and-desist letter attempting to quash distribution of a new book critical of the administration.

One of Trump’s attorneys sent a legal notice to Michael Wolff, author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” and the book’s publisher, saying the president would pursue libel charges against both, the Washington Post reported Jan. 4. The attorney also demanded a halt to sales of the book.

In a statement, the Authors Guild said it was “dismayed by the unprecedented attempt by President Trump to block publication of a book.” The group called the president’s action “flagrantly unconstitutional.”

“To the Guild’s knowledge, no prior president has sued a writer for libel, and for good reason,” the group said. “The ability to criticize the government and its leaders lies at the essence of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech; and threats of libel lawsuits are one of the de facto primary means of curtailing free speech in this country today.”

The Association of American Publishers also came out against the threat of legal action. CEO Maria Pallante said the “history of book publishing in the United States is the history of free speech, public debate, and democracy itself.”

“While it is understood that some books will be unpopular, upsetting or even threatening to some audiences, the Supreme Court has long recognized that prior restraints strike at the very heart of our democratic ideals and are presumptively unconstitutional,” Pallante added.