President Trump and his team want to ‘open up’ libel laws. The goal: to make it easier to sue media organizations for unfavorable coverage. But there is little that the President can actually do to change the libel laws. There is no federal law on libel. State laws control libel, and all such laws are subject to stringent First Amendment protections for the press and other speakers that the Supreme Court has imposed through cases such as the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan decision in 1964. However, threats to loosen the libel laws is noteworthy as part of a larger effort to criticize the press and attack its credibility.
Coal magnate Robert Murray has a long history of suing the media – at least nine organizations at last count. He targeted HBO’s John Oliver and The New York Times claiming that both misrepresented safety at his coal mines and attacked him personally. He even asked for an emergency “gag order” against rebroadcast of Oliver’s segment arguing it was hurting business and threatening employees. A federal judge ruled that Murray’s case against Oliver should proceed in state court. But after the case was remanded,HBO and Partially Important Productions submitted motions to dismiss which were granted. Murray intends to appeal.
The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment expert, Gene Policinski, originally published this commentary on the Newseum blog, and has given First […]
A writer calling himself Father of Candor was far ahead of his time when he attacked seditious libel in 1764. He argued that truth should be an absolute defense against libel, and that only intentional lies should be subject to libel laws.
The online consumer review site, Yelp, tried to protect the anonymity of a reviewer who wrote a dismissive piece about […]
After The New York Times issued an apology to Sarah Palin for incorrectly tying her to a 2011 mass shooting in an editorial, the paper asked for the defamation lawsuit she is bringing against them to be dismissed. Not yet says a New York judge. First he wants to Times to testify so he can understand “whether the complaint contains sufficient allegations of actual malice, an essential element of the claim.”
First came Huffington Post freelance writer Yashar Ali’s report that Fox’s Eric Bolling inappropriately sexted several colleagues. Then came Bolling’s […]