Tag Archives: Defamation

Alex Jones Got What He Deserved, by Jacob G. Hornberger

No, you don’t have a First Amendment right to slander or libel people. Suggesting that the parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook made up their story is about as defamatory as it gets. Jones’ attorneys stonewalled at every stage of the trial. The alternative media scribes suggesting that the verdict somehow silences Jones don’t know what they’re talking about. He can say whatever he wants, he will just have to be more careful in the future not to utter or print defamatory statements. The almost $1 billion in damages in the Connecticut trial is excessive, and it may get reduced on appeal. If not, Jones is bankrupt and the debt may not be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for him. How much sympathy did he have for the parents he libeled? Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org gets it right.

Whatever one might think about Alex Jones, it’s difficult for me to understand how anyone can question the rightfulness of the multimillion damage awards that juries in Connecticut and Texas recently assessed against him. In my opinion, Jones got exactly what he deserved.

For limited-government libertarians, a proper role of government is to provide a judicial forum in which people can resolve their legal disputes. If someone commits a wrong — a “tort” in legal language — against another person, the latter has the right to file suit against the former for damages.

We see this all the time, for example, in automobile crashes, where one person’s negligence has caused the accident. The victim has the right to sue the driver whose negligence caused the crash and recover damages.

Alex Jones. Photo licensed under Creative Commons.

If a tort is intentional — such as murder or rape — the victim has the right to sue for both compensatory damages and punitive damages. The compensatory damages represent actual damages suffered by the victim, such as medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering. The punitive damages represent an intent to punish the malefactor by inflicting additional damages on him.

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Repairman who revealed Hunter Biden laptop sues Schiff, CNN, Politico and the Daily Beast, by Miranda Devine

It looks like John Paul Mac Isaac is going to be a big winner in the defamation lottery. From Miranda Devine at nypost.com:

The Delaware computer repairman who blew the whistle on Hunter Biden’s laptop filed a multimillion-dollar defamation suit Tuesday against Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, CNN, the Daily Beast and Politico, saying they falsely accused him of peddling Russian disinformation.

The former shop owner, John Paul Mac Isaac, decided to fight back after losing his business and being harassed for 18 months by Big Tech, the media and Delaware locals in President Biden’s home state.

“After fighting to reveal the truth, all I want now is for the rest of the country to know that there was a collective and orchestrated effort by social and mainstream media to block a real story with real consequences for the nation,” the 45-year-old Mac Isaac told The Post.

“This was collusion led by 51 former pillars in the intelligence community and backed by words and actions of a politically motivated DOJ and FBI,” he continued. “I want this lawsuit to reveal that collusion and more importantly, who gave the marching orders.”

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Romney’s “Treason” Smear of Tulsi Gabbard is False and Noxious, But Now Typifies U.S. Discourse, by Glenn Greenwald

Mitt Romney further confirms that he’s one of the biggest pieces of garbage in Washington. From Glenn Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

The Founders limited “treason” in the Constitution due to grave concerns it would be weaponized to criminalize dissent: exactly how the term is now routinely used.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images); Lt. Col. Tulsi Gabbard, former Congresswoman from Hawaii (Wikipedia Creative Commons)

The crime of “treason” is one of the gravest an American citizen can commit, if not the gravest. It is one of the few crimes other than murder for which execution is still a permissible punishment under both U.S. federal law and the laws of several states. The framers of the U.S. Constitution were so concerned about the temptation to abuse this term — by depicting political dissent as a criminalized betrayal of one’s country — that they chose to define and limit how this crime could be applied by inserting this limiting paragraph into the Constitution itself; reflecting the gravity and temptation to abuse accusations of “treason,” it is the only crime they chose to define in the U.S. Constitution. Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Treason was the only crime to be explicitly defined and limited by the Founders because they sought “to guard against the historic use of treason prosecutions by repressive governments to silence otherwise legitimate political opposition.” In other words, the grave danger anticipated by the Founders was that “treason” would radically expand to include any criticisms of or opposition to official U.S. Government policy, activities they sought in the Bill of Rights to enshrine as an inviolable right of U.S. citizenship, not turn it into a capital crime.

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A Press Afraid to Be Free? by Andrew P. Napolitano

A Supreme Court decision made it very hard for public figures to sue for defamation. That’s hard on public figures, but they have platforms and it contributes to robust press freedom. From Andrew P. Napolitano at lewrockwell.com:

In a week, the Supreme Court will decide if it will consider diminishing long-standing protections for the freedom of the press. Here is the backstory.

In 1964, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed a jury verdict by an Alabama state court and in doing so changed the law of defamation in such a manner as to enhance substantially and materially the freedom of the press.

The case was Times v. Sullivan, in which the police commissioner of Montgomery, Alabama, sued The New York Times for publishing a full-page advertisement that, he argued, though it did not mention him by name, had defamed him.

The libel law in Alabama and all states at the time permitted an aggrieved plaintiff to recover damages from a publisher for a defamatory inaccuracy in a publication by showing simple negligence.

In the advertisement about which Commissioner L.B. Sullivan complained, there were some inaccuracies, and so the Alabama Supreme Court upheld his half million-dollar verdict. The Times appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In reversing, the Supreme Court ruled that when a public official is the plaintiff in a defamation case, the First Amendment is implicated since the press is the eyes and ears of the public, and the public has the right to know what the public official is doing.

This was a radical and judge-made change in defamation law. The court held that, to safe-guard transparency about government and to protect free speech about public officials, a higher bar than simple negligence was needed. The court fashioned a bar called “actual malice.”

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Broke billionaires (and other ridiculous signs of the top), by Simon Black

A lot of what’s counted as wealth these days will simply vanish when collapse sets in. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

File this one away under ‘completely ridiculous’.

You might have heard that Elon Musk was on trial last week in Los Angeles; he was being sued because he claimed (multiple times) that British spelunker Vernon Unsworth was a pedophile. (He’s not.)

It’s generally damaging to one’s reputation when a world-famous billionaire erroneously calls you one of the worst things anyone could possibly be.  So Unsworth sued for defamation.

Defamation in the United States is actually quite difficult to prove.

In order to win a defamation case in the US, the claimant has to demonstrate that you knowingly said something false, or that you completely disregarded whether or not something was false.

It’s pretty clear that Musk knew his comments were false; he acknowledged that Unsworth is not a pedophile.

But winning a defamation case in the US also requires proving that Musk had the deliberate intent to harm Unsworth’s reputation.  And that’s tough to do.

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Covington High School Student Files $250 Million Defamation Suit Against Washington Post, by Tyler Burden

You can bet that Nicolas Sandmann, the high student in the infamous video, had lawyers lined up around the block to work on contingency for this suit. It was filed in US District Court in Kentucky, and Sandmann’s odds of at worst a big settlement look pretty good. The Post’s lawyers would be fools to let this go to a jury trial. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

After an investigation conducted by the Covington Diocese turned up no evidence that 16-year-old high school student Nicholas Sandmann confronted Native American activist Nathan Phillips during a March for Life rally at the Lincoln Memorial last month, seemingly confirming that the mainstream press was incorrect to pillory the white, MAGA-hat wearing teen for a confrontation that never actually happened, lawyers for Sandmann filed the first of what are expected to be many defamation lawsuits demanding compensatory and punitive damages for leading an Internet mob that villified Sandmann and his peers.

According to Reuters, lawyers Lin Wood and Todd McMurtry are seeking $250 million in damages from the Washington Post on behalf of Sandmann, a sum equal to the amount that billionaire Jeff Bezos paid to buy the paper in 2013.

The suit claims that the paper – which helped publicize a now infamous photo that helped trigger an Internet mob that swiftly outed the teen and demanded he be punished – led the hate campaign against Sandmann – and failed to practice proper journalistic due diligence – “because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap on a school field trip to the January 18 March for Life in Washington, D.C. when he was unexpectedly and suddenly confronted by Nathan Phillips (‘Phillips’), a known Native American activist, who beat a drum and sang loudly within inches of his face (‘the January 18 incident’).”

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