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InfoWars And Alex Jones Now Face Three Defamation Suits by Sandy Hook Parents

InfoWars And Alex Jones Now Face Three Defamation Suits by Sandy Hook Parents

The 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre which killed 20 children and 6 adults galvanized parents and relatives of those murdered to promote gun reform. One conservative commentator who responded negatively to their efforts: Alex Jones and his Infowars which ran segments claiming the massacre at Sandy Hook was “a giant hoax.” Jones’ followers have continued to harass Sandy Hook families. Now Leonard Pozner and his former wife, Veronique De La Rosa, parents of Noah Pozner, and Neil Heslin, the father of Jesse Lewis, have responded by filing two defamation suits against Alex Jones stating “defendants’ defamatory statements were knowingly false or made with reckless disregard for the truth.” They are seeking at least $1 million in damages. This is the second time this year Alex Jones has been sued for defamation. In March, Brennan Gilmore, sued Jones for stories that led to threats against him. Now, six more families of Sandy Hook victims and an FBI agent filed a third defamation lawsuit Wednesday against Jones.

May 24, 2018 Libel, Top Stories
EPA Bars Reporters from Several Outlets From Attending National Summit

EPA Bars Reporters from Several Outlets From Attending National Summit

May 23, 2018: Environmental Protection Agency bars select reporters from entering an event where Scott Pruitt, the agency’s chief, was speaking Reporters from CNN, The Associated Press, and E&E News were barred by the EPA from entering a national summit “of national priority,” while other reporters were allowed inside for Scott Pruitt’s opening remarks after having been invited by the agency the[Read More…]

May 23, 2018 Access, Press, Top Stories
Michigan State University’s Settlement with Gymnasts Could Set First Amendment Precedent

Michigan State University’s Settlement with Gymnasts Could Set First Amendment Precedent

The Michigan State University settlement with Larry Nassar’s victims came with a condition. The survivors may not advocate for two reform bills currently being debated and voted on in Michigan state legislature that are seeking to remove government immunity in cases involving childhood sexual abuse.

May 18, 2018 Assembly, Top Stories
Trump Calls Leakers “Traitors and Cowards” In Aggressive Push Against “Fake News Media”

Trump Calls Leakers “Traitors and Cowards” In Aggressive Push Against “Fake News Media”

Trump continued making a connection between fake news and negative press coverage while simultaneously attacking leakers in his own Administration calling them “traitors” and “cowards.” Although CNN’s Brian Stelter points out Trump’s Justice Department “has prosecuted a few cases involving alleged leakers, not nearly as many as some media watchdogs feared, or as many as some Trump allies hoped,” calling out leakers as traitors chills a free press. FAW’s spotlight on leakers points out that “aggressive prosecution of leakers began under President Obama – with the most famous case, Edward Snowden, still in hiding in Russia – and continues under President Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rumored to even be considering a lie detector test to ferret out leakers.”

May 17, 2018 Leaks, Press, Threats, Top Stories
Columnist and The Dallas Morning News Argue in Libel Case that First Amendment Protects Contested Opinion Piece– and Win

Columnist and The Dallas Morning News Argue in Libel Case that First Amendment Protects Contested Opinion Piece– and Win

Parents of Paul Tatum, a teenager who committed suicide, sued now retired columnist Steve Blow at The Dallas Morning News for libel in regards to a piece he wrote in 2010 about their son’s death. The court however decided the column was protected by the First Amendment as it was an opinion piece and therefore protected speech. “The publication of Blow’s column may have run afoul of certain journalistic, ethical, and other standards. But the standards governing the law of defamation are not among them,” wrote Justice Jeff Brown, a former Texas Supreme Court chief justice who handled the case in the Supreme Court.

May 17, 2018 Libel, News Gathering, Press, Top Stories
Gene Policinski, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum Institute and First Amendment Center of Newseum Institute

Gene Policinski Commentary: President’s Press Credential Threat Will Be ‘Trumped’ By The First Amendment

The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on May 11, 2018, on the Newseum blog, and has given First Amendment Watch permission to reprint.           Donald Trump can fantasize all he wants about taking away White House press credentials from news outlets that he doesn’t like. It’s unpleasant for the journalists[Read More…]

President Trump Takes Fake News Accusations To New Level Tweeting Negative Coverage Equals Fake News

President Trump Takes Fake News Accusations To New Level Tweeting Negative Coverage Equals Fake News

Presidents make use of all forms of communication to get their message out to voters. No other President has so effectively used Twitter as President Trump who has called it his “own form of media” used to counter “fake news.” In his latest deluge, President Trump equates negative news coverage with “fake news” and threatens to revoke press credentials (again). The central role of the First Amendment is to protect the people in their writings about government affairs and government officials—and especially when it is negative, as that is when the government is most likely to try to punish writers. As James Madison wrote in his Virginia Report of 1800, freedom of the press protects the “right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right.” 

May 14, 2018 Access, Fake News, Press, Threats, Top Stories
First Amendment Scholar Ron Collins, “We Have No Tolerance For Tolerance.”

First Amendment Scholar Ron Collins, “We Have No Tolerance For Tolerance.”

In a new essay in Concurring Opinions, Abandoned? The Liberal Flight from the First Amendment, First Amendment scholar, Ron Collins, writes that the cultural wars have wiped away once steadfast liberal ideas of tolerance. “Toleration (that enemy of the self-righteous) has always been at the heart of the First Amendment. But ideology makes its demands and when it does liberty is left wounded. Sensitive to such concerns, the reflections that follow (by an open-minded person with progressive tendencies) are about the liberal abandonment of the First Amendment, or much of it.” As First Amendment Watch kicks off a series of online essay debates on the topic, we want to hear from you. What do you think? Is there really no tolerance for tolerance anymore?

May 9, 2018 Speech, Top Stories
American University Student Sues Neo-Nazi Site, Daily Stormer

American University Student Sues Neo-Nazi Site, Daily Stormer

May 1, 2018: Trollers, Online Harassers Taken To Task in New Lawsuit American University student Taylor Dumpson is bringing one of the first event student activist lawsuits against alt-right and online trolls, according to The Chronicle for Higher Education. In her suit, Dumpson states that, “just one day after being inaugurated as the first female African American student government president at[Read More…]

May 5, 2018 Libel, Speech, Top Stories
In A Blow to Women and Minorities Seeking Pay Parity, Judge Rules Philadelphia Cannot Ban Salary History Inquiry Under First Amendment

In A Blow to Women and Minorities Seeking Pay Parity, Judge Rules Philadelphia Cannot Ban Salary History Inquiry Under First Amendment

The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia brought a lawsuit against Philadephia for an ordinance that banned employers from inquiring about a job-seeker’s salary history, stating that it was ‘bad for business.’ The ordinance has two parts – “it prohibits an employer from inquiring about a prospective employee’s wage history (“the Inquiry Provision”); and second, it makes it illegal for an employer to rely on wage history “at any stage in the employment process” to determine a salary for an employee (“the Reliance Provision”).” Philadelphia approved the ordinance in January to take effect this May. However, U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the “inquiry provision” specifically violated the First Amendment’s free speech clause. “Although the ordinance represents a significant positive attempt to address the wage gap, the First Amendment compels me to enjoin implementation of the inquiry provision.” Will this chill efforts in other states and cities that have been passing similar ordinances?

May 3, 2018 Speech, Top Stories