During the 1964 US Presidential election, the now defunct Fact Magazine published a piece smearing Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater as insane. The piece featured analysis from psychiatric professionals who had never met Goldwater.
The magazine’s piece made a mockery of Goldwater’s widely read book, The Conscience of A Conservative.
Goldwater sued the publication and while he lost the election, years later, in 1969 the US Federal Court of Appeals ruled in favour of Goldwater.
The precedent setting Goldwater v. Ginzburg case affirmed that it is defamatory to publish a psychiatric diagnosis questioning one’s sanity if the subject has not been personally examined by the doctor making the claim.
It seems that psychiatrists who recently authored a piece published in the radically liberal Huntington Post stating that Trump is ‘mentally unfit for office’, are not aware of the so-called Goldwater Rule which derived from Barry Goldwater’s successful lawsuit.
The question now is: should Donald Trump sue?
I think he should. Trump had said during the campaign that he wanted tougher libel laws in the US to bring rogue elements in the media into line.
This is his chance to use existing laws to sue The Huffington Post and give his legal damages (winnings) to a charity of his choice as a good will gesture.
It is not only insulting and clinically unethical to make such a diagnosis, but it seeks to weaken the President’s position not based on policy matters but based on what boils down to wild, politically motivated speculation.