Join First Amendment Watch and Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) for a virtual taping of the So to Speak Podcast with Jacob Mchangama, author of “Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media” in conversation with Greg Lukianoff, Professor Stephen D. Solomon, Sarah McLaughlin, and host Nico Perrino.
Ruth Shalit Barrett, a freelance writer who wrote a piece for The Atlantic about how some wealthy parents are pushing their children into niche sports in an attempt to get them into Ivy League schools is suing for defamation. The lawsuit, filed on January 7th in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, claims that The Atlantic and editor Donald Peck, “unlawfully smeared” her and damaged her reputation and career.
Disinformation is more pernicious and widespread today than at any other point in history, largely because of social media and the Internet. For instance, it is now widely known—and verified by the U.S. intelligence community—that Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election.
On December 16th, a judge in the for the Superior Court of the State of Delaware denied Fox News’ request to have a $1.6 billion defamation suit filed against it by Dominion Voting Systems dismissed. In March 2021, Dominion sued Fox News for defamation, arguing that network hosts, including Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and others, spread false information that its company’s technology was used to rig the election in favor of Joe Biden.
On December 1st, a federal court in Texas issued a preliminary injunction against Texas’ social media law, HB 20, for violating platforms’ First Amendment right to moderate the third-party content they disseminate. "HB 20 prohibits virtually all content moderation, the very tool that social media platforms employ to make their platforms safe, useful, and enjoyable for users," U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman wrote.
A Georgia mother and daughter who processed ballots in Atlanta for the 2020 presidential election are suing The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing conspiracy theory website, for falsely claiming they manipulated ballots. According to the complaint filed in the circuit court for St. Louis City, Missouri, by Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shay” Moss, the website published dozens of false stories about them, calling them “crooked Democrats” and claiming that they “pulled out suitcases full of ballots and began counting those ballots without election monitors in the room.”
On November 28th, Mark Esper, who served as the defense secretary during the Trump administration, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense (DoD) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In his complaint, Esper says the DoD has “unlawfully imposed a prior restraint upon Mr. Esper by delaying, obstructing and infringing on his constitutional right to publish his unclassified manuscript entitled ‘A Sacred Oath’.”
On November 18th, a Supreme Court judge for Westchester County issued a temporary prior restraint against The New York Times brought by Project Veritas, a conservative organization founded by political activist James O’Keefe. The prior restraint arises from a November 11th article in The Times about a Justice Department investigation into Project Veritas’s reporting methods, including its possible involvement in the theft of a diary belonging to President Joe Biden’s daughter.