Relationship to the truth

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Fox News Channel. Photo by Steve Rhodes (CC BY 2.0)

For the past three years, All The Presidents’ Lawyers has focused a lot on defamation cases, and there’s an obvious reason for that: former President Trump has been (and still is) the target of defamation cases and he has also invoked or actually used defamation suits as strategy for years.

Remember when Stormy Daniels sued former President Trump, saying he defamed her by calling her accusation that she threatened in a Las Vegas parking lot not to talk about her affair with him a “con job”? Her argument did not hold up in court. Trump’s statement was protected opinion and not a provable statement of fact, and Daniels was ordered to pay his legal fees.

Defamation lawsuits are difficult to win by design: balancing free speech and the need for remedies for damaged reputations is a challenge. But as the years went on, stakes in defamation suits got a lot higher than they were with the “con job” tweet.

Dominion Voting Systems has filed many lawsuits against parties, including Fox News, seeking billions of dollars in damages. They say these media companies and individuals aired wild claims about the voting machine company and these allegations seriously damaged its business interests. But even its defamation suits aren’t a slam dunk. 

Special guest RonNell Andersen Jones, an expert in First Amendment, media and defamation law talks with Josh Barro (Ken White is taking this week off the show) about the history of defamation law in the United States, current challenges and scholarship, if defamation suits are just the cost of doing business for media organizations, and more.

Credits

Hosts:
Josh Barro, RonNell Andersen Jones

Producer:
Sara Fay