Dan Spinelli is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying English.
As if newspapers didn’t have a variety of other issues to worry about, the 2016 presidential election has brought the scourge of litigation threats, courtesy of Republican nominee Donald Trump. Before entering the political arena, Trump had repeatedly sued journalists (and threatened many more with lawsuits) over representations he deemed unfair.  While the fall of Gawker Media may suggest otherwise, two recent newspaper scoops about Trump have reiterated the limits of litigation against media organizations and the steep threshold for holding reporters accountable in court. The first is The New York Times’ uncovering of pages from Trump’s 1995 tax returns and the second is the Washington Post’s publication of a 2005 video of Trump describing women in ugly, lewd terms.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Gawker’s collapse came about due to litigation, but its cardinal sin, according to the Florida state court, was “invasion of privacy,” for the posting of a sex tape wrestler Hulk Hogan had hoped to keep far away from the public eye.  Donald Trump’s mere involvement in the issue would already make the standard of publication much more lenient, as private information pertaining to him is undoubtedly much more concerning to the public than anything involving a professional wrestler. The circumstances surrounding both cases, while widely challenged by Trump as unethical, would leave virtually no room open for litigation on Trump’s part.