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Media Attorney: Free Speech Under Attack In Era Of Trump

U.S. Supreme Court
J. Scott Applewhite
In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington, at sunset.

McLean County lawyers are about to get a lesson in the First Amendment.
Media attorney Don Craven of Springfield will be the featured speaker at the McLean County Bar Association's Law Day luncheon at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center Prairie Room at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Don CravenSpringfield attorney Don Craven will speak at the McLean County Bar Association's Law Day luncheon on Tuesday at ISU's Bone Student Center.
Credit Don Craven

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Craven said the legal community must stand with the media amid President Donald Trump’s frequent hostility toward the media and his attempts to silence it when he gets unflattering news coverage.

“The remedy is not to shut down the news media,” Craven said. "The remedy is not to undertake an effort to eliminate what has traditionally been a free press.”

He said while Trump has often been hostile toward the media, he doesn't believe his efforts to curtail libel lawswould stand a chance in court.

Craven said there are multiple examples of legal precedent, including the Pentagon Papers case, that would make any effort to curtail libel laws unlikely.

“To do what he wants to accomplish would require taking several Supreme Court decisions, such as the New York Times decision, and cutting them out of the jurisprudence," Craven said. “I just don’t see that happening.”

Craven said he made a career out of training and retraining government and other public organizations to take open meetings and other sunshine laws seriously.

“Every time we think we have them trained, we have an election and we elect new folks who don’t know the rules,” Craven said. “From a business perspective it’s an annuity. It might be a small annuity, but it’s an annuity because the same issues arise over and over again.”

Craven has counseled numerous media organizations including the Illinois News Broadcasters Association(of which WGLT is a member) across Illinois for decades.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.