Defamation

The Dismissal of Nicholas Sandmann's Lawsuit Shows There's a Difference Between Unfair Press Coverage and Libel

While the teenager has a legitimate beef about coverage of his encounter with Native American activist Nathan Phillips, that doesn't mean he has a legal cause of action.

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It seems clear that Nicholas Sandmann, the MAGA-hat-wearing Kentucky high school student whose encounter with Native American activist Nathan Phillips on the National Mall last January was widely portrayed as an example of smug bigotry among Trump supporters, got a raw deal, as Robby Soave has argued here. But there is a difference between unfair press coverage and libel, as the dismissal of Sandmann's defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post shows.

In a ruling issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman goes through the 33 statements in seven Post articles and three related tweets that Sandmann cited in his lawsuit and concludes that none qualifies as defamation under Kentucky law. Twenty-three of the statements did not refer to Sandmann specifically, instead describing the group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, who attended the March for Life that day. While Sandman was part of that group, the judge says, the statements were not "about" him and therefore do not meet a minimum requirement for defamation.

As for the rest of the statements, Bertelsman says, none constitutes an objectively false factual assertion, another requirement for defamation. One article, for example, said the students "exchanged taunts" with the group of Hebrew Israelites whose bigoted and inflammatory remarks provoked the confrontation on the Mall to which Phillips said he was responding. "What constitutes 'taunting' is a subjective matter of opinion," Bertelsman says.

When the Post reported that "school officials and the Catholic Diocese of Covington released a joint statement condemning and apologizing for the students' actions," it was likewise noting the opinion of those officials (although it later corrected that characterization by noting that the officials had not actually apologized). When the paper quoted Phillips as lamenting that "my America is being torn apart by racism, hatred, bigotry," it was also reporting someone's opinion.

The expression on Sandmann's face when Phillips was standing in front of him, which many people perceived as a "smirk" but he described as a smile intended to defuse the situation, is open to interpretation as well. And so on.

Perhaps most controversially, Bertelsman concludes that when Phillips told the Post he "felt threatened" after he was "swarmed" by the teenagers and claimed "that guy in the hat [i.e., Sandmann] stood in my way and we were at an impasse," because "he just blocked my way and wouldn't allow me to retreat," he also was expressing his own subjective reaction. "How Phillips 'felt' is obviously subjective," Bertelsman writes, "and whether Phillips was 'swarmed' or 'blocked' is simply not 'capable of being proved objectively incorrect.'"

Sandman's defenders argued that Phillips, who initiated the encounter by "walking very close to Sandmann, beating his drum and singing within inches of Sandmann's face" (as Bertelsman puts it), misrepresented the situation. But Bertelsman sees dueling interpretations and emotional reactions rather than a factual dispute:

The Court accepts Sandmann' s statement that, when he was standing motionless in the confrontation with Phillips, his intent was to calm the situation and not to impede or block anyone. However, Phillips did not see it that way. He concluded that he was being "blocked" and not allowed to "retreat." He passed these conclusions on to The Post. They may have been erroneous, but…they are opinion protected by the First Amendment.

Quoting a 2006 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which includes Kentucky, Bertelsman emphasized that "in determining whether a writing is libelous per se," as Sandmann charged, "courts must stay within the four corners of the written communication." The 6th Circuit continued: "The words must be given their ordinary, natural meaning as defined by the average lay person. The face of the writing must be stripped of all innuendoes and explanations." It was the "innuendoes," reinforced by the comments of pundits and social media users, that really damned Sandmann.

Sandmann also sued CNN and NBC over their coverage, and those cases are still pending.

Even if the Post's coverage fell short of libel, that hardly means it was a model of journalistic practice. After Sandmann filed his lawsuit, the Post admitted that its initial reporting was flawed. According to a March 1 editor's note, "Subsequent reporting, a student's statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story—including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict." The paper also noted that "an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students' accounts consistent with videos."

As Bertelsman notes, the "additional video" was available online on January 19, the day after the incident, so the Post could have provided "a more complete assessment of what occurred" all along. By failing to do so, and by omitting the perspective of Sandmann and the other students from its early coverage, it reinforced the impression that they were the aggressors. The Post started to backtrack three days later, when it published a story headlined "Viral Standoff Between a Tribal Elder and a High Schooler Is More Complicated Than It First Seemed." That same day, the Post also published a column by press critic Erik Wemple headlined "'Fuller Picture': How Major Media Outlets Handled Their Evolving Accounts of the Covington Story." But those re-evaluations came after the Post presented Phillips' account without contradiction and ran video of the incident under headlines like "Teens Mock and Jeer Native American Elder on the Mall." Lots of people, including the school and church officials in Kentucky, jumped to unjustified conclusions in this case, and news outlets such as the Post encouraged them to do so.

There are obvious lessons here for journalists. But the case also illustrates a point that Donald Trump should (but won't) take to heart: Journalism can be unbalanced, misleading, and even flat-out wrong without being legally actionable. That's as it should be in a country that values freedom of speech, which requires tolerating all sorts of "fake news," even when it hurts innocent bystanders. As painful as it is to be on the receiving end of irresponsible news coverage, the consequences would be far worse if the government ventured beyond the relatively narrow confines of defamation and tried to mandate fairness.

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  1. Whatever Sullum.

    The Sandy Hook parents are still suiing Alex Jones.

    Hulk Hogan talking down Gawker scares the shit out of you Propagandists who lie for a living. You and your Useful Idiots, including judges, will do whatever it takes for the Cause.

    Let a jury decide this kid’s case. I bet they are sympathetic.

    1. Or get rid of defamation and protections for publishers.

      Let anyone say/print anything they want to and about anyone and at any time. Let the best person win!

      Lefties wont like it because they are already losing their Propaganda war. It’s why Lefties attack people like Alex Jones for giving his opinion. Crazy as it is.

      1. Lefties wont like it because they are already losing their Propaganda war. It’s why Lefties attack people like Alex Jones for giving his opinion. Crazy as it is.

        Also, they focus on Alex Jones so they don’t have to actually engage and respond honestly to all of the real, cogent, intelligent, and inciteful comment from others. When they have to they just straight up lie about it. Look at the most recent straight up lie about Kevin Williamson. NARAL coming out with easily debunked flat out lies which are then just retweeted and repeated ad infinitum on Yahoo News, Vox, etc. Absolute fabrications, and yet that’s what goes down as “truth”. Garbage.

    2. RIP: Newspaper circulation lowest ever recorded

      This is why reason uses troll socks to increase web traffic.

      Further evidence that the Lefty Propagandists are losing the war.

    3. Gawker was not a slander case. It was an invasion of privacy case. Hulk never denied that the video was real and truthful. The problem was that it was a stolen video and Gawker refused to take it down. The jury found that there was no news value to showing the video and that Gawker was guilty of invasion of privacy for leaving it up. Gawker could have reported on the video and described it in all its detail. It just couldn’t put up the video because it didn’t belong to them and the owner didn’t give them permission to do so.

      It is important to note that reason objected to that decision, because the ability to broadcast stolen videotapes and humiliate people is essential to a free society or something.

      1. The jury found that there was no news value to showing the video and that Gawker was guilty of invasion of privacy for leaving it up.

        Interesting. I wonder if it would be allowed if it were an invasion of privacy that somehow had (subjectively determined) “news value”?

        1. The point was actually seeing the video had no news value over reading about what was in it. The news value the video had was the fact that Hulk got off on screwing his friend’s wife in front of him.

          The classic example of this sort of situation is a video of a rape. Suppose a news outlet gets the video of a woman being raped. Should they be allowed to put the video up over the objection of the victim? The answer is no. Putting it up just invades the victim’s privacy and humiliates and harms her and provides no additional information to the public.

          This is why the Hulk’s attorneys asks the Gawker editor if a video of a child being raped would have newsvalue and be something they would broadcast. The dumb ass said “yes”. Gawker was the dumbest and least sympathetic defendant in a civil case maybe ever or certainly in the top ten.

          1. The point was actually seeing the video had no news value over reading about what was in it. The news value the video had was the fact that Hulk got off on screwing his friend’s wife in front of him.

            Whether it had “news value” or not is completely subjective. It’s interesting to me that you can objectively invade someone’s privacy like that as long as doing so has “news value” to some people.

            If a rape victim’s name was withheld in the news story and their identity was obscured in the video, I don’t see much of a difference with respect to the invasion of privacy.

            1. If the name of the victim is withheld and her body and face obscured, then I don’t think there would be an invasion of privacy in that circumstance. I was speaking about if they didn’t do that.

              1. But is that what they were arguing? Was the argument made about obscuring the identity of the rape victim in print and in video?

                1. No. They were saying straight up they think showing the whole video name and face and all is newsworthy. Nothing in the Hulk video was obscured.

                  1. But printing a story describing in detail what was in the video, identities of the participants and all, is somehow not an invasion of privacy? I’m trying to figure out the legal standard by which publishing a video versus printing a story becomes an invasion of privacy. If the print story revealed the identity of the rape victim (in the hypothetical case brought up in the Hogan case), would that be an acceptable invasion of privacy because it had “news value” while the video is not an acceptable invasion of privacy? Maybe it has “news value” to the illiterate or something.

                    1. Yes, describing the video is not considered invasion of privacy. The standard is I think showing the video is unnecessary and gratuitous.

                    2. Can’t reply, so I’ll reply to myself.

                      So if I ran a story that said, “We have seen video of Hulk Hogan fucking his friend’s wife,” that’s not an invasion of privacy, but showing the video to others is? Ridiculous.

                    3. Plus, the media used his likeness without his permission for gain.

                      A news story might be one thing but this video was to better the Gawker image of having a sex video and they never got Hulk’s permission to use his image.

                      Its likely why Hulk got so much money. His image is his brand and he owns that. Its recognizable Worldwide and worth something. Evidently its worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

            2. Yes. One of the hallmarks of libertarians is supposed to be individual accountability and individual risk. If Gawker thought there was news value (and it certainly got them page views), it was their money at risk. not the public’s.

              1. Wow you have three socks in this thread already, SQRLSY.

            3. A famous news image from the Vietnam war featured a nude child fleeing a burning building. Images like these showed the American public what the actual effect of their pressing the war, and lowered public support for the war (also the fact that the political leadership had lied about the scope, intent, and likelihood of success of the war lowered public support for the war, see also “Iraq”)

              1. The difference is that event happened in the open and the people who took the photo had no objection to it being published. In the Hulk case the video had been stolen and Hulk said he didn’t want it shown.

                To make your situation analogous, the picture would have to have been stolen from the girl’s family and published over their objection.

              2. Phan Thị Kim Phúc

                Not “nude child”

                That is her name.

                She was nine years old and survived third degree burns following a napalm attack by our south Vietnamese allies. A year later after many surgical procedures she survived.

                1. She was both nude and a child. She was doing more than fleeing a fire but to describe her as a “nude child” is not incorrect.

        2. Yes, that’s what Gawker’s argument was – that the posts had news value that was of interest to the public. The jury disagreed, but if they had agreed then Gawker would indeed have been off the hook.

          1. What a completely absurd legal standard. I can’t invade your privacy unless lots of people want me to so they can have “news”.

            1. Juries are the triers of fact.

              The legal fact of whether this video was newsworthy or not.

              This jury decided that it was not.

              1. Ok, but that is based on a legal standard that invasion of privacy is acceptable as long as a jury determines that doing so has “news value.” It’s bizarre.

                1. Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press. If that statement has value, then applying it is not “bizarre”.

                  1. “If that statement has value”

                    Has value /= absolute.

                    Womp Womp.

                  2. Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press.

                    Then invasion of privacy is not a thing and no one has a right to privacy. If a person has a right to privacy that can be invaded with legal consequences for doing so, then the 1st amendment is not violated when protecting that right.

                    1. Your two sentences do not work together.

                      The First Amendment limits federal law, but is irrelevant to the instant matter, which is a tort. Congress may not pass laws to limit the freedom of the press, but private persons may act to limit the freedom of the press.

                2. Rule of Law cannot possibly address every situation, so in the USA we have parameters of events that laws spell out. If some situation falls in that parameter then a jury can decide whether to find fault with the defendant and for how much.

                  1. And the parameters of the events in question is that a violation of someone’s privacy is acceptable if it is arbitrarily determined to be newsworthy, but unacceptable and legally actionable if it has not been arbitrarily determined (ultimately be a jury) that it is newsworthy. This is garbage.

                    1. If we only had a Constitutional Amendment to protect our absolute right to privacy.

      2. See https://reason.com/blog/2016/03/18/florida-jury-awards-115-million-to-hulk#comment_5994639 … About Hooker Hulk Hogan… “Hooker Hulk” gets $115 MILLION, v/s “Stormy Daniels” gets only $130 K, for each of them being skanky hos. The MALE skanky ho gets almost THREE orders of magnitude more money!!! How is THAT for sexual equality?!

        But what gets my bowels in an uproar even more, is that through the courts and policemen enforcing court orders and/or contracts here in these kinds of cases, Government Almighty is the Pimp Daddy and hit-man enforcer of it all! And then they go and jail $50 and $100 poor hookers, to “protect us from trafficking in sex slaves”.

        If Government Almighty is going to be the Big Pimp Daddy and hit-man enforcer, for the rich and famous, then could they PLEASE stop being hypocrites, and stop punishing the “little people” for doing the same things!??!

        SIDE-BAND SNIDE COMMENT:

        As a socio-economic and sexual-political experiment, I think someone should get Hooker Hulk Hogan to fuck Stormy Daniels. Which of the two would owe how much money, to the other?

        MAIN COMMENT:

        I think I have figured out WHY does Government Almighty play Big Pimp Daddy to the rich and famous, while punishing the dirt-poor hookers?! When $130 k or $115 million gets thrown around, Government Almighty gets to tax the payment and the lawyers, and grab at least 1/3 of it. Easy-peasy on the big transactions… When a small-time hooker turns a trick “under the table” (a kinky place to do it!), it is MUCH harder to collect! Especially if he or she is paid in smack or crack or Ripple wine…

        I am UTTERLY crushed to have fingered out that Government Almighty (which claims to LOVE me and want to PROTECT me from sleazy sex), is actually just wanting to line its own wallet!!!

        1. So showing a stolen video that humiliates someone and refusing to take it down EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT YOUR VIDEO is totally great!!

          Sure.

          1. I have no sympathy for publicity whores (sports stars, actresses and actors) who say “look at me and admire me” for all day every day, and then suddenly piss and moan when the paparazzi will not immediately turn off their cameras on command. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

            The footage was captured by a husband getting cucked. Has he no interest or rights in this affair? Have I, and the public, no right to learn that a lot of publicity whores are hypocrites?

            1. “the paparazzi will not immediately turn off their cameras on command.”

              Good thing that isn’t anything like what happened, McGoo.

              1. You were there, watching it happen? That’s how you know? Did you lick the cum off of Hooker Hulk Hogan’s skanky dick when they were done? How was it?

                1. Everyone involved admitted what happened dumbfuck.

                  Lol.

                2. Wow, you’re a fucked-up piece of shit. Go die in a fire.

            2. That’s stupid. If someone were to testify in a high profile profile case where there were cameras in the courtroom, does that gives anyone license to spy on the same person in order to get sex tapes? Or, if a woman who is famous on Instagram for posting hand made tzatziki expected allow pictures of her jerking off as well?

              1. In neither of your cases, is the “privacy victim” making huge money off of “their” images, and in nether cases, are the “victims” busy cucking another man. I say again, live by the sword, die by the sword. You don’t want another husband selling footage of you cucking his wife? Then don’t cuck his wife! As things are now, Government Almighty is serving as Pimp-Daddy-in-Charge, here. Your and my tax dollars being spend, shipping Pimp-Daddy money around, so that it can get taxed!

                1. No, he’s right. You’re stupid.

                2. “live by the sword, die by the sword”

                  The WWF/E secretly recorded him wrestling, then sold it against his will for profit?

                  Lol, you’re so fucking stupid that you cannot help but clown yourself every time you post Mcgoo.

                  1. “The WWF/E secretly recorded him wrestling, then sold it against his will for profit?”

                    If he was wrestling with just himself, then fine! If he was wrestling with someone else, that other person has rights as well! If you don’t want to let me have photos of you wrestling, then don’t cum around my house wrestling! Duh!

                    1. So no, he didn’t get secretly recorded by the WWE, so your continued complaint that this is him dying by the sword is mooted and you look even dumber.

            3. Libertarians against Privacy.

              Never thought I’d see the day.

                1. It’s a private organization. They can do whatever they want.

                  1. Because organizations trump individuals?

      3. While true that the Hulk Hogan case was filed as an invasion of privacy, IP, and infliction of emotional distress case, Hulk Hogan stated that he was not aware that the video was taken.

        Gawker said that it was newsworthy and they had proper permissions. Gawker lied about the permissions part.

        Additionally, the media goes after some people and not others. Sometimes this is for reasons other than destroying a political opponent and sometimes it is only that reason.

        Hulk Hogan made public statements wanting to be Donald Trump’s VP. I don’t know enough about the court case if this came up as partial motivation for the video release. Hulk Hogan’s sex video only garnered something like 5 million views. Seems low for a “must have” sex tape.

        1. The husband of the babe getting laid by Hooker Hulk Hogan has rights here too, IMHO. Other women out there (who might otherwise fall for the blandishments of Hooker Hulk Hogan) have a right to know that he’s total sleaze, and might carry who knows how many “social diseases”. And the public at large has a right to know that public figures (who make money off of their images, and then piss and moan when paparazzi “steal” their images) are hypocrites!

          OK, I can see that Hooker Hulk Hogan’s privacy did get invaded, yes… Give him a few grand sounds vaguely “just”. $115 MILLION, and bankrupting a business, sounds WAAAAY out of line!

          1. He has a world wide brand you fucking retard.

          2. “The husband of the babe getting laid by Hooker Hulk Hogan has rights here too, IMHO.”

            The husband is Bubba the Love Sponge. It was HIS idea. An employee of Bubba’s stole the tape.

            ” Other women out there (who might otherwise fall for the blandishments of Hooker Hulk Hogan) have a right to know that he’s total sleaze, and might carry who knows how many “social diseases”.”

            She initiated the sex. Not vice versa.

            “And the public at large has a right to know that public figures (who make money off of their images, and then piss and moan when paparazzi “steal” their images) are hypocrites!”

            So, if you’re in the public, you have zero right to privacy? Medical records should be put in the news too?

            1. “So, if you’re in the public, you have zero right to privacy? Medical records should be put in the news too?”

              ***IF*** you were making a shit-ton of money sharing your medical info with the public, and lying about it, THEN I would support a reporter finding out (by hook or by at least semi-crook) out about your lies, and exposing them! Otherwise no!

              Hooker Hulk Hogan made money by spreading his image (literally and figuratively) far and wide. If he is NOT living up to his public image, him being rewarded with $115 million (for being skanky) is WAAAY out of line!

              “Let the punishment fit the crime” is a matter of opinion, granted. Not math. But $115 million to “Hooker Hulk”, and a bankrupted business, is WAAAY whack! Part of the root cause is that Government Almighty LOVES to move those millions of dollars around, so that they can GET MORE TAXES! And a free press be damned!

              1. “**IF*** you were making a shit-ton of money sharing your medical info with the public, and lying about it, THEN I would support a reporter finding out (by hook or by at least semi-crook) out about your lies, and exposing them! Otherwise no!”

                Hogan made his millions discussing his fucking of women? I can assure you that could not be less the case.

                “Hooker Hulk Hogan made money by spreading his image (literally and figuratively) far and wide. If he is NOT living up to his public image, him being rewarded with $115 million (for being skanky) is WAAAY out of line!”

                The Puritannical Libertarian is a new troll schtick. Gotta give you that.

              2. Fuck off with the UPPER CASE, retard. Someone should shove your caps lock key down your pencil-neck throat.

          3. You one pathetic bootlicker, sqrlsy

            1. Whose boots am I licking?

              Y’all who make excuses for Pimp Daddy Big Government Almighty, moving $115 million (115 FUCKING MILLION DOLLARS, fer Chrissakes!!!) around, so that it can TAX it, and reward a total sleaze, for his sleaze, are the boot-lickers and Hooker-Hulk-Hogan dick-lickers, not me!

              Don’t forget, this is the SAME Big Government Almighty that punishes $50 and $100-per-trick, poor streetwalkers, for being sleazes just like Hooker-Hulk-Hogan. HOW BIG does the injustice need to get, before “family values” conservatards will object?

    4. Apparently now anything can be called opinion, if the “journalist”chooses to use a quote rather than doing any research or presenting a factual description.

      1. Definitions of words are opinions.
        Except when it comes to determining criminal intent, premeditation, contract law, hate crimes, mandatory minimum sentences, civil liability, etc,etc,etc

      2. Apparently now anything can be called opinion,

        No. Assertions of fact which are falsifiable are not opinions. When a jury delivers a verdict of “not guilty,” there is no way to defend as opinion an account saying it was a verdict of, “guilty.” That is the kind of stark contrast between truth and falsehood which a libel claim typically requires.

    5. Let’s let a jury decide 2nd amendment cases too. Is that what you propose? Going to start a new ACLU which ignores a different amendment?

      1. We do that. If you use your right to bear arms to shoot someone, the jury decides if you are innocent or guilty. The 1st Amendment does not mean you are immune from the consequences of your speech anymore than the 2nd means you can shoot people with impunity.

        My God you are stupid. Dumb fuck is too weak of word for you.

        1. You realize that is a sockpuppet for SQRLSY, the guy who stupidly said “I have no sympathy for publicity whores (sports stars, actresses and actors) who say “look at me and admire me” for all day every day, and then suddenly piss and moan when the paparazzi will not immediately turn off their cameras on command” about the Hogan case?

          It’s the same person trolling you from multiple accounts John.

          1. I know. I just have a weakness for idiots.

            1. Fair enough, have at it. I certainly don’t mind watching you kick him around.

    6. The kid needs to appeal. And keep pushing until he succeeds. Be as tenacious as the leftist scum that infest our country.

      I hope he makes a billion dollars and bankrupts as many of them as possible. If he can shut down even one leftist media outlet he will be a national hero.

      1. You people are clowns. This is nothing more than a good learning experience for this kid. Sometimes journalists are full of shit – sometimes something you do can be interpreted multiple ways – sometimes it’s useful to be aware of no-win type situations.

        He’s far better off learning that sort of stuff decades before he might otherwise learn it. Or – he could take your advice and turn into an angry moron.

        1. It’s not quite that simple. The media chose to run with an angle without research because it fit their desired narrative. They backtrack but the damage is done. This will follow the kid his entire life. Difficult to take in stride.

        2. Hope you get fucked in the ass by the media. You’d be singing a different tune then.

    7. About the Hulk Hogan vs Gawker. Hogan sued Gawker because they leaked a Sex Tape of Hogan, not for Defamation or Expressing an Opinion. Comparing it to Covington case is like comparing an Apple to an Orange

      1. Or an Apple and a Banana which totally confuses CNN!

  2. The Dismissal of Nicholas Sandmann’s Lawsuit Shows There’s a Difference Between Unfair Press Coverage and Libel

    Hell, Google could’ve told you that.

  3. Maybe, since journalists think of themselves as highly qualified and well-educated experts on just about everything, Sandman should sue for malpractice. The Post presented the article as well researched news, vetted by the best people in the world. It wasn’t.

  4. There are obvious lessons here for journalists. But the case also illustrates a point that Donald Trump should (but won’t) take to heart: Journalism can be unbalanced, misleading, and even flat-out wrong without being legally actionable. That’s as it should be in a country that values freedom of speech, which requires tolerating all sorts of “fake news,” even when it hurts innocent bystanders. As painful as it is to be on the receiving end of irresponsible news coverage, the consequences would be far worse if the government ventured beyond the relatively narrow confines of defamation and tried to mandate fairness.

    Sorry but giving “journalists” a license to lie is not necessary for a free society. In fact, having a media class that is completely immune to telling the truth as ours appears to be in antithetical to a free society.

    Moreover, why should anyone now hold the media in anything but contempt? If reason’s view here represents the media at large’s view, and I see no reason to believe it doesn’t, the media is claiming a right to lie about anything without bearing any consequences of that lie. Even if you think they should not be held responsible for lying, I think it is fair to hold the media in complete contempt and consider it a disgusting and immoral profession.

    And I do not believe that this decision will survive on appeal. “Taunt” has an objective meaning. If I say “hey how is it going?” I am not taunting you. Taunting means something and saying the kids taunted the people on the mall is a statement of fact. The judge is wrong here and I think the appellate court is going to overrule this.

    1. Propagandists actually hurt a free society, IMO.

      If reason, WaPo, NYT, NBC, NPR, FOX, and all the other Propaganda outlets went bankrupt tomorrow there would be a market for factual and objective news.

      I think enough Americans want truthful news that is objective as possible. Just the facts, as they say.

      1. Lemme guess, FOX is included because it’s too left-wing for you?

        1. Poor Tony. He does not know what Propaganda even is.

          I still laugh that Tony watches FOX to see how Libertarians are and he is upset in how wrong he is about Libertarians.

          1. Tony couldn’t learn from Sesame Street, much less anything else.

    2. “Sorry but giving “journalists” a license to lie is not necessary for a free society. In fact, having a media class that is completely immune to telling the truth as ours appears to be in antithetical to a free society.””

      Let’s re-word that, just for fun:

      “Sorry but giving “politicians” a license to lie is not necessary for a free society. In fact, having a citizen class that is completely immune to telling the truth as ours appears to be in antithetical to a free society.”

      Tis true, tis pity. Tis pity, tis true. Perhaps. But what a can of worms would we be opening, eh?

      1. Sure, lets reword it. Giving politicians immunity from slander laws and free reign to lie and destroy people’s lives and reputation is antithetical to a free society.

        That is a great analogy. Thanks.

      2. WTF are you talking about, Albert?
        You, AlbertP, rape prepubescent children twice per week.
        Let’s get your real name and broadcast that shit.
        What you gonna do about it?

        1. LOL. So you equate giving not one inch on the first amendment with raping little children? Really? (Or, did you forget the “sarc font on”?)

          On a more serious note, broadcasting, or even accusing someone of that, knowing it to be false, would constitute, depending on the jurisdiction, libel, slander, or defamation of character. And again, depending on the jurisdiction, make the spreading of such, a civil, or criminal, offense. Or both. I would recommend the injured party take full advantage of those options.

          1. He doesn’t know it to be false, either. So he is basing his assertion above on his opinion that you talk like a pederast. See?

            1. LOL, That is funny!

    3. The assertion here seems to be that the paper didn’t lie, it just didn’t bother with any journalism before credulously printing the lies of others. Without evidence to the contrary, I think that’s the case.

      Sandmann indeed to shafted and I wanted to see him make the Post pay, but I understand the ruling.

      1. The ruling is that the Post gave an opinion not a statement of fact. According to the court, the word “taunt” has no objective meaning. I don’t think an appellate court is going to buy that.

        1. An opinion presented as contextual fact.

        2. Yeah, cannot figure out why folks think the media is utter and useless bullshit.

          Everything they said was false. But because they simply quoted somebody else, they are protected?

          Are they journalists or just fucking stenographers? Aren’t editors there to check for errors? Don’t they have fact checkers?

          1. Lefty “fact checkers” are there to bolster the lie that the media is nothing objective “journalists” printing the truth.

            1. Remember that politician who said she was accosted at Publix and told to “go back where she came from” a couple of days back?

              Yeah, Snopes fact-checked that.

              No… not her claims that were later rebutted by the person in question, the employees of the store, other shoppers at the store and a video tape. They didn’t fact check that statement by a politician that made national news for a couple of days and was used as proof of the racist nature of Trump’s america and Trump’s support. Nah… that’s silly.

              They fact-checked a BabylonBee satire article about her. Because satire about something this serious is dangerous.

              No, I’m not kidding. They really did

              While this real-world incident stirred up a good amount of online anger, it wasn’t quite outrageous enough for the entertainment website Babylon Bee. In an apparent attempt to maximize the online indignation, this website published a fictionalized version of the story, changing the location to Chick-fil-A, a fast-food restaurant known for its CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage:

              That’s where their outrage lies. Not with a lawmaker who faked up a racist attack – and was actually guilty of a racist attack against an immigrant from Cuba. No, they are outraged that a (not progressive) website would make a joke about it.

              Yeah, tell me again how “fact check” sites are right down the middle. BTW, here’s their summary of the actual events:

              What’s true: Georgia state Rep. Erica Thomas claimed that she was verbally assaulted by a man at a Publix store who told her to “go back” where she came from. The man admitted that he cursed at Thomas, but he denied making the “go back” remark. Thomas subsequently said that she wasn’t exactly sure of what the man said, and a witness claimed it was Thomas, not the customer, who used the “go back” language.

              Note the neutered version of events. Nothing about her tearful claims, or the press conference that was covered by all national networks. Nor about the “white nationalist” who turned out to be a Cuban democrat who spent a good bit of time sharing anti-Trump memes. Nor about her belligerent and bullying behavior that was caught on tape. Not even a note that she was being shamed for using the express lane with too many items. Nothing about her using her size to intimidate the much smaller Cuban guy. Nothing about her chasing after him and yelling at him…. nope. Just a simple “she claimed he verbally assaulted her” and “witnesses say something less”.

              Heck, they get more worked up about Trump tweeting that he likes tacos.

                  1. I have a bigger number 1^100.

                    I win.

                    For a while.

                  2. You think you could win that easily?

                    +ℵ_0

                    (In case Unicode doesn’t work in the comments, that should be “Aleph nought”.)

              1. Snopes is a fucking clown show and has been for years. During the 2016 Democratic Nat’l Convention, there were zero American flags up the first day. Conservative media found out about it and had a heyday with it. So the second day there were hastily-put-up flags everywhere.

                Snopes reported this as conservative media saying there were no flags during the entire convention, which is a bald-face fucking LIE.

                Snopes could tell me the sky was blue and I’d go check to be sure.

                1. Boy did I used to be pretty naive about that shit.

                  When the Emory U. students went full panic mode and called 911 about the horror and injury caused by someone chalking “Trump 2016” on a few walkways on their campus. Snopes wrote that up as “False” because it was so ridiculous. But it was true (though it was indeed ridiculous) in every word.

                  And of course, they wished it away as an “error by an inexperienced employee yadayada”, since they don’t have algorithms to blame such things on (in true Google/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter style) .

                  That was my “Ah-HA!” moment regarding Snopes.

                  (NOTE: The ‘happy ending’ to the story is one I just made up: rain or campus maintenance staff washed away the horrifying graffiti and a few students gained precious “MH issues, diagnosed” victim points due to the PTSD from the incident. I’m sure they suffered more when they discovered how little those victim points count compared to those of less-contingent status, like race.)

      2. I have to disagree. As I posted on the original Brickbat article, the judge’s analysis of the case seems critically flawed, as numerous things he labeled as “subjective” or “opinion” are objectively false.

        Yes, you can say “swarmed” is subjective compared to “surrounded”. However, no definition of “swarmed” accurately describes the actions that occurred, as Phillips barged into a stationary group.

        The entire article goes in that direction, with the result being a completely inaccurate description of events. Each individual statement might be marginally acceptable if you squint hard enough or stretch definitions, but the totality of the article was a complete fabrication, relaying a series of events that did not happen by any objective observer.

        Furthermore, there is the problem that this is a pre-trial dismissal. No evidence has been heard. However, the judge rules extensively on the evidence of the case, and not just a matter of law. Sandmann has not yet had his day in court.

        If this is not libel, NOTHING IS, and libel protections mean nothing.

      3. I would note that the Judge took the statements individually instead of as a whole in context. That is the only way he could attempt to justify his so-called ruling; which he knows is likely to be overturned at the Appellate Court.

        Although this case has made clear that the MSM has become nothing more than Progressive Propagandists; who fail to check even basic information and willing to attack anyone including minors who oppose their ideology.

    4. “Sorry but giving ‘journalists’ a license to lie is not necessary for a free society”

      Unless “journalists” are a special class, worthy of fewer rights that everybody else, it is. Freedom of speech includes speech that is less than 100% accurate. Opinions are absolutely protected from defamation law, for example, unless they claim to be drawn from undisclosed facts. Do you know ANYONE whose opinions are 100% accurate (besides myself, of course)?

      1. Freedom of speech includes speech that is less than 100% accurate.

        No it doesn’t. Freedom of speech doesn’t include the right to slander. Moreover, the 1st Amendment is a restriction on government not the actions of private parties. At most it prohibits criminal slander statutes. No way does it make slander no longer an actionable tort.

        Do you know ANYONE whose opinions are 100% accurate (besides myself, of course)?

        If my opinion is demonstrably false, and my stating it causes someone damage, I should be responsible for that damage. To take an analogy, everyone has a right to freedom of movement. It is a right protected under the Constitution just as much as free speech. And I don’t know anyone who is a perfect driver. That, however, does not mean that tort actions for negligence while driving violate your freedom of movement.

        The First Amendment is not a license lie and cause harm to other people anymore than the 2nd is a license to shoot people.

        1. That sock is also SQRLSY, John, and he’s not particularly good at hiding it.

          1. We are ALL SQRLSY socks, now!!! ALL of the socks in the world, have recognized my brilliance!!!

            Bravo, DullPuppy! Bravo!

      2. Uhh, no. That is why slander exists. To be 100% protected, you have to speak truth. Truth is an absolute defense and, without it, you CAN be punished for speech

        1. You guys preach maximum individual freedom but buckle like wallpaper when anyone practices it who doesn’t agree with your politics.

          You are horrible people.

          1. This is going to be shocking to you, but very few libertarians are going to come down on the “you can slander or libel someone and they have no recourse” side of things.

            In fact, I can’t think of any political group who would agree with that, not even full-on anarchists.

            Now, there is an argument here as to where the line between libel and free speech is… and in this case there’s also a third line, between “opinion” and “intentionally shading a story to give a false impression of someone and causing them a great deal of harm”.

            That last line is a little tougher… because you have the intent to cause harm, but a careful use of language to avoid running afoul of libel laws. I think that is what is causing a lot of consternation – regardless of whether you buy in to the deft shading as the court does, everyone knows that the intent was to paint the guy as a racist even though they knew the story wasn’t accurate from the jump.

          2. Tony doesn’t have any reputation, so he has nothing to lose.

            People who earn a good reputation over years of being a good person to others and garnering that respect do have something to lose.

            Its why we have defamation laws. Before national IDs, government tracking, and Commie Social Credit Systems your character, word, and public standing were valuable to some.

          3. And you’re a retarded cunt who’s never had an original thought in your pin sized Okie head.

          4. Tony = pro-slander. Odd.

          5. You forgot the individual responsibility part.

            Action have consequences, both good and bad.

            1. And not even the good-lookin’ ones.

      3. Journalists have extensive liability protections in the form of corrections. If the Washington Post had issued a prompt correction and not continued to post lies after being informed of the problem, this would have been avoided and they would have had an ironclad defense.

    5. We need to bring back legal duels. That would solve a lot of problems

    6. Saying falsely that someone taunted another is not defamation. No way to win on that basis.

  5. So the case is completely over, no appeals pending, done and dismissed?

    I ask because, if it isn’t, then one judge’s opinion isn’t evidence of anything other than what that judge thinks.

    1. According to the WaPo, that opinion is a fact.

      1. According to the judge, it’s just an opinion.

        1. And the judge gets a nice campaign contribution from the Post.

          1. “Senior” means he’s semi-retired.

            1. And thus requires a bigger “contribution”. Since his opinion is more valuable.

    2. The case was dismissed in a pre-trial motion. Sandmann never had the chance to call a single witness or face a jury.

      However, it can be appealed, and the attorneys have already stated their intent to appeal. Given how baffling this judgement was to many lawyers (at least those with articles and YouTube channels), I cannot see the appeal not being at least considered.

  6. As Bertelsman notes, the “additional video” was available online on January 19, the day after the incident, so the Post could have provided “a more complete assessment of what occurred” all along.

    It’s not libel. It is bad journalism, and willfully bad. In a just world, the Post would lose face over this but in this world where people choose narratives to fit their views and don’t back down, the paper will go on with no forced introspection and no change of internal procedure.

    As we see more journalists on social media giving their hot takes, it’s obvious those hot takes are making it in some form into ink. This does not bode well for the next kid who buys the wrong souvenir and encounters the wrong adult on camera.

    1. As we see more journalists on social media giving their hot takes, it’s obvious those hot takes are making it in some form into ink. This does not bode well for the next kid who buys the wrong souvenir and encounters the wrong adult on camera.

      Why people loath the media. The mystery continues. Like I said above, regardless of your opinion of the legal technicalities of this case, I think Sullmn’s opinion here is prima facia evidence that the media is inhabited by some of the worst people on earth.

      1. A good policy is never to talk to them.

    2. “In a just world, the Post would lose face over this but in this world where people choose narratives to fit their views and don’t back down, the paper will go on with no forced introspection and no change of internal procedure.”

      And that is what organized violence is for.
      If the courts are going to deny us proles civil avenues to redress intentional wrongdoing by the clergy class, what else is there?

      1. Now you’re getting it. I’ve foreseen this for some years now. This is why I say the things I say.

        If we end up slaughtering the left, it will be because they have forced our hand and left no alternative. At that time I will have no pity or mercy left for them.

      2. These media sorts are indeed part of the new clerisy. Especially so given how they have so readily adopted the role of informing and enforcing dogma.

        But that does not make them a class. Much like the Catholic church in pre-revolutionary France they are merely a part of the governing aristocracy. And, as such, that is why they receive protections that non-members do not.

        That is the class distinction Sullum is serving.

        1. +100 But I think Nardz is right that it isn’t going to end well for them if this nonsense doesn’t stop.

      3. If you want to organize a mob to burn down the Washington Post, I could support that.

    3. Libel does not require malice, simple negligence will suffice.

      So ‘bad journalism’ can indeed equal libel when the information conveyed is in fact harmful to the identified party.

      1. And the party is not a public figure. If it is a public figure, the standard is literally “well I didn’t know it wasn’t true”. It is pathetic.

      2. ThomasD, your assertion, if allowed to govern, would end public political life. Bad reporting, plus damage, describes many political scenarios which are protected by the 2A. Indeed, any political utterance on a fraught topic is likely to produce both constructive support, and damaging opposition. In short, that is what happens with differences of opinion, and matters of opinion are protected. To be libel, the utterance has to be false, and not only damaging, but defamatory.

        1. Typo: s/b ” . . . protected by the 1A.”

  7. >>>There are obvious lessons here for journalists.

    the first lesson any of you journos learns will be the first.

  8. Article
    FC Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi was attacked in Ibiza. Holidays from Barcelona and the Argentina national team Lionel Messi, who was on vacation in Ibiza

    FC Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi was attacked in Ibiza

    Holidays from Barcelona and the Argentina national team Lionel Messi, who was on vacation in Ibiza, was the victim of an attack. On the video that has appeared on the Internet, the guard is blocking the path of a man trying to pounce on the five-time winner of the Golden Ball.

    An unknown person tried to attack the forward of “Barcelona” and the national team of Argentina Lionel Messi in Ibiza.

    1. Oh, you don’t want to attack me. Things could get…well, you know.

      1. “Oh, you don’t want to attack me. Things could get…well, you know.”

        Juicy?

  9. I saw an an analysis of the judge’s ruling that said he was making evidentiary decisions on whether or not what happened qualified as libel without the actual evidence having been presented. That is, the judge was ruling on things that require the trial to go forward not on pre trial statements. The judge ruled erroneously by prejudging evidence that had not bee properly submitted to the court yet.

    This would appear to be a dubious and prejudicial ruling with plenty of grounds to appeal, which Sandman’s lawyers are doing.

    1. You read a biased analysis of the judge’s ruling.

      That, plus $4, will buy you a cup of Fourbucks coffee.

      1. Biased toward what the law actually says you mean…

      2. You don’t understand how the 1st Amendment works. That is okay, but your being smug on top of ignorant is really annoying.

        1. Stupid Pollock does that.

      3. The analysis said that the judge could summarily rule on these bases during trial after the evidence is presented. To summarily rule on these bases before trial is to assume the WaPo lawyer’s statements are fact before evidence has been presented to back them appears to be odd, at the least.

  10. “Even if the Post’s coverage fell short of libel, that hardly means it was a model of journalistic practice.”

    It pretty clearly _was_ a model of journalistic practice, which is why almost everyone regards journalists with disgust and contempt.

    I can’t help but wonder how this case would have turned out if it was some random person lying about a Washington Post employee.

    1. Even if the Post’s coverage fell short of libel, that hardly means it was a model of journalistic practice.”

      It is important to note that no one was ever held in any way accountable for it. So, yes it is a model of journalistic practice.

      1. Nobody was fired. No heads rolled.

        MUH PRIVATE COMPANY!!! THEY DON’T LET STUFF SLIDE LIKE THE GOVERNMENT DOES!!!

    2. ” which is why almost everyone regards journalists with disgust and contempt.”

      That must be why advertisers put their ads on news programs. You know, because the ads look so much better by comparison.

      1. So wait, advertisers going where there are eyes is somehow evidence that people trust journalists?
        You’re THAT stupid SQRLSY?

        1. Winner, winner, winner; Chicken, chicken, dinner,
          has just shown his-her-its preference for chicken-chicken-
          chicken poop!

          Bon appatit, Mon Smegma!

    1. Just need to avoid those leftist judges.

  11. Here is what the Post said after the truth came out

    Here’s what the Post wrote when the truth came out: “Subsequent reporting and video evidence contradicted or failed to corroborate that one of the activists was accosted and prevented from moving, that they had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the counter, that the students were trying to instigate a conflict.”

    The judges claim that no reasonable jury could conclude that the Post was stating fact and not just giving an opinion is a bit curious when you consider the Post itself considered it factual enough to retract it. You don’t retract opinions.

    1. “You don’t retract opinions.”

      You don’t, perhaps.

      Adults can admit when they were wrong.

      1. Newspapers do not issue retractions on opinion pieces. They retract facts.

        Your unique combination of smugness and stupidity is not appealing.

      2. Can you name a single op-ed column retracted? I cannot.

        1. Even with retractions of facts, they should go on the front page.

          The shittier the newspaper, the more of their front page would be taken up by retractions. It all works out as less and less people read newspapers and those fucking Communists working the beat lose their jobs and pensions.

      3. Is the WaPo in the habit of publishing opinion pieces that are not clearly identified as opinion?

        Do they explain this to their readership?

      4. Nathan Phillips can’t.

  12. I think the wording of the dismissal offers sufficient grounds for a successful appeal. You should view Viva Frei’s YouTube analysis https://youtu.be/iSRVnvfD6Cc-

    1. I disagree with him. To win on appeal, the defendants are going to have to convince the court that no reasonable person could find those statements to be factual and libel. I don’t think they are going to do that nor should they.

      1. To win the appeal, the plaintiffs will have to show abuse of discretion. And winning the appeal still doesn’t win the case.

        The odds of Sandmann winning damages of anything are extremely low. The odds of him winning damages of more than $1 are… nil.

        1. “To win the appeal, the plaintiffs will have to show abuse of discretion”

          Wrong. In fact, stupidly embarrassingly wrong.

        2. To win the appeal, the plaintiffs will have to show abuse of discretion. And winning the appeal still doesn’t win the case.

          No they won’t dumb ass. This was an appeal on a motion to dismiss. The judge made no factual findings. He took the facts as alleged by the plaintiffs and made a ruling that as a matter of law no jury could ever find for the plaintiff. Judges get an abuse of discretion deference on findings of fact. There were no findings of fact in this case. This was a ruling of law and will get denovo review at the appellate level.

          The odds of you having an IQ above 90 are nil. Jesus you are stupid. And you are untrainable as well.

          1. “The odds of you having an IQ above 90 are nil.”

            So, only 15 points higher than yours.

            1. Why do you post, Pollock?
              Are you a masochist?
              If one could sue oneself for defamation, you might just have a case.

            2. Retard fails at English and at math.

          2. It is still a tough one, because ‘this is opinion’ is a finding of fact, one which is necessary to make a ruling on the law in this case.

            I haven’t heard anyone talking on this angle, but doesn’t he have to make all assumptions in favor of the plaintiff in this instance? And doesn’t that mean that he has to assume that characterizations of his actions are not opinion?

            Also, wasn’t a big part of the ruling “they never used his name, so he wasn’t harmed”? Also a finding of fact – they used his photograph and a bunch of inflammatory language to go with it. I’m not sure how a judge who is making all assumptions for the plaintiff could get to “you weren’t harmed” in a case where he quite objectively and obviously was grievously harmed.

            Judge might be right… they might well be covered in that they only quote other people and the inflammatory wrapper that they put around that poop sandwich is protected by the first amendment. But it sure looks like he went with “I’m gonna find for the defense” and backed his way into that conclusion instead of following the law forward as we all pretend that they are supposed to do.

            1. It is not hard at all. He didn’t make any finding of facts. He took the facts as the plaintiffs claimed them to be and ruled that even if they were true, the plaintiffs would still lose. There was no finding of fact. There were just legal findings saying if this or that were true, the plaintiffs would still lose

            2. Cyto, you are taking the process in the wrong order. Proving harm does not prove libel. Proving falsehood and defamation proves libel. After that, harm because relevant with regard to damages. But plenty of speech, including false speech, which causes harm, is not defamatory. For instance, the publication of actually damaging opinions.

          3. On the contrary John, there are a huge number of findings of fact in this dismissal, which is why the appeal is almost certain to succeed.

            1. Yes. It appears it is worse than I thought. I gave the judge too much credit. He made a bunch of findings of fact and then ruled against the plaintiffs without a trial.

  13. The judge also claimed that because the Post’s coverage was “laden with hyperbole” it was just opinion and couldn’t be libelous. Think about how absurd that is. If someone gets a ticket speeding and I go out and tell the world that they were given a ticket for “reckless driving”, that is hyperbole. It is also factually wrong. Not all speeding is reckless driving. Indeed, the very definition of hyperbole is to take a fact and exaggerate it to untruth.

    The decision is wrong on about ten levels.

    1. Wasn’t it a front page story?

      I am not aware of papers putting op-eds on the front page, but I don’t admit to paying close attention to dying businesses.

      Reason — media dying means they will NEVER employ the lot of you.

  14. It’s funny how “flawed coverage” can really fuck someone’s life up.

    1. And funny how no one in the media is ever held accountable or ever gives a single shit about screwing up people’s lives. Yet, they can’t figure out why everyone hates them.

      1. How many reporters or “analysts” have been fired over the Russian “collusion” hoax?

        How many were fired over the Michael Brown case?

        Trayvon Martin?

        Jussie Smollett? Isn’t Robin Roberts STILL on GMA?

        Nothing says good ideas like protecting a business from terrible practices as they refuse to punish anybody who does bad things.

        1. Jussie Smollett? Haven’t you heard? They are rehabilitating that guy. The attack actually happened…. the whole “hoax thing” is a lie. He’s suing the brothers now for attacking him and lying about it. Oh, and they are trying to find a mysterious “third person” who was there.

          1. It was Michael Flynn!

            1. No, it was Mark Judge.

          2. Three Trump supporters in MAGA hats, including two black Nigerians, attacked him.

            This is merely a statement of opinion, so if I turn out to be wrong, the Nigerians can’t sue me. Ha, ha!

            (Note to Nigerians’ lawyers – this is simply a little joke, ha ha)

  15. Journalism can be unbalanced, misleading, and even flat-out wrong without being legally actionable.

    “Misleading and even flat-out wrong” is just a long way of saying “lie”. Sullum really seems to believe that journalists have a Constitutional right to lie about people without bearing any responsibility for the damage those lies create.

    That is just astounding that anyone could be that arrogant and nasty.

    1. At least he concedes that “Misleading and even flat-out wrong” are problematic when appearing on a search warrant for illegal drugs.

      Cops do it = Bad

      Media do it = No problem

      1. The media are special. They can’t be expected to tell the truth or anything like that.

        1. And the only harm of concern is physical harm.

        2. Special in the ‘special ed’ sense.

    2. “Misleading and even flat-out wrong” is just a long way of saying “lie”.

      Could be. Or it could be a way of saying, “mistaken opinion.”

  16. The hit piece was not labeled “opinion”. It was not on an editorial page.
    Given the explosion of “journalists” who are nothing but citizens with a blog, the new definition is now this:
    Anything not clearly labeled EDITORIAL OPINION is all caps in a font larger than the article must contain two or more identified, verifiable, sources; and other articles are NOT sources. Otherwise, it is subject to all libel laws on the books, and the code duello is reinstated.

    1. That is true and always has been true. You are responsible for the consequences of your action. The fact that it was negligence on your part doesn’t release you from the duty to make whole the people you have harmed. Remember, we are talking about a civil suit for damages not throwing someone in jail. So, yes, negligence is a perfectly acceptable standard for liability.

      1. ” So, yes, negligence is a perfectly acceptable standard for liability.”

        Unless, of course, your lawyer doesn’t make any mention of negligence when listing your causes of action in your pleading.

        1. He did. It is called a tort for a reason you half wit.

          1. God bless you, John. You are doing good work.

      2. So, yes, negligence is a perfectly acceptable standard for liability.

        Not legally, with regard to published defamation. There the standard is the much higher, “reckless disregard for the truth.”

    2. “code duello is reinstated”

      +1000

      That would solve so many problems. Try to ruin my son’s life? Yeah, I’ll gladly put my ass on the line in order to stab you through your shriveled worthless heart.

  17. “While Sandman was part of that group, the judge says, the statements were not “about” him and therefore do not meet a minimum requirement for defamation.”

    Yeah, because the Post claimed that the group did these deplorable things but specifically didn’t say Sandman did them. Meanwhile, the Post blasts a full page picture of Sandman standing in front of Phillips with his “smirk”. The judge willfully didn’t think about publication in aggregate as defamation. In his quest to be “According to Hoyle” in his ruling, the judge fails. This should be reversed on appeal.

    1. If we put up a story on the actions of Nazis and put the judge’s picture up to accompany it —- that’s cool now?

      1. I’ve seen dumb comments on this thread. And it appears you fail to grasp the context of the composition of a photo and how it relates to the story. But you keep trying!

        1. Again, the judge ruled the paper was discussing a group and not Sandmann, but Sandmann is the person in the photo.

          You’re not a very good sock.

  18. So, are libertarians now completely against the concept of individual responsibility for action? Reason seems to oppose it pretty heavily.

    1. Reason is anti-individual responsibility for the press and for the corporations that host press content. Weird, right?

      1. It’s all just a strange coincidence you Krazy Konnspiracy Kook.

        1. You think it takes a conspiracy to write articles that favor policies that provide you with financial and/or legal benefit?

          Either everything amounts to conspiracy in your mind, or you’re just a total moron that needs conspiracies to explain the most simple of circumstances.

          1. Sorry, thought my sarcasm was obvious.

            Sarcasm fail.

  19. I would like to be a fly on the wall in the Post offices when they discuss this situation. How many people there do you think are really concerned about this kid at all?

  20. This is hugely damaging for the press. Now we know they can publish libel and whatever other false bullshit and the courts will cover for them. The courts and journalists can rot in hell together. They are some of the lowest form of scum on Earth.

  21. The “obvious lesson for journalists here” is that as long as you are pushing the correct narrative, it is just fine and dandy to create a fake story – just so long as you are careful to only express “facts” that are shades of opinion and always have quotes from others to back you up.

    They knew this guy was a huxter. They just didn’t care. You can tell by the way they “corrected” the story. It suddenly became “more complex”. Not “oh, wow, did we get duped! We had this story exactly backwards!”

    And they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Go to any leftist group and ask about this case… you won’t get a nuanced view. They all know the truth. Some racist kid wearing a MAGA hat was staring down and intimidating a sweet old “tribal elder” while his bro’s chanted racist taunts.

    NBC is going to skate as well – even though their much later coverage was even more inexcusable. Savannah Guthrie is known to have worked with Chuck Shumer and his office on the Kavanaugh hearings… I have little doubt that there was similar back-channel communication taking place before her infamous interviews with the “sweet old tribal elder” and the “unapologetic racist MAGA hat wearing christian conservative teen”. Asking questions based on completely (and knowingly) false assumptions designed entirely to paint the poor kid as some kind of hateful racist doesn’t fall under the heading of slander and libel.

    But they slandered and libeled the kid, just the same.

    1. “The “obvious lesson for journalists here” is that as long as you are pushing the correct narrative, it is just fine and dandy to create a fake story – just so long as you are careful to only express ‘facts’ that are shades of opinion and always have quotes from others to back you up.”

      Not a recent development. The lawyers for Fox News have been winning on “that’s an opinion show, not a news show” for years.
      Back before Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine, the opinion programs and the news programs were almost always on completely different radio stations. A broadcast license was a license to print money, and station owners were careful to avoid taking a stand on anything because they’d have to give free airtime to “responsible opposing viewpoints”, and free airtime for that is airtime you can’t sell to Honest Ed’s Used Cars, home of the Square Deal.

      1. ?

        There’s a big difference between Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh et. al. and The Evening News.

        Fox has real news shows. Hannity and … who was the old guy? Bill O’Reiley…. all those guys… not news. Clearly labeled not just “opinion”, but in the “news entertainment” category.

        Maddow is also an opinion show in the “infotaiment” category, despite her pretense otherwise. Actually, that’s a pretty big difference between left and right. Hannity, Limbaugh et. al. are usually pretty explicit about the fact that they are entertainers and are there to draw an audience. O’Reilly was less explicit about that on his show, if I remember correctly, but he certainly was explicit about it when talking about his show. Heck, I may have forgotten how explicit he was about it on his show because part of his schtick is to be a blowhard knowitall. But I actually have something tickling the back of my brain about him having discussions about places like Air America not understanding the “entertainment” aspect of the business.

        1. He’s too stupid to understand they printed lies in the news coverage, not just opinions on in the opinion page

      2. Cite for us the Fox lawyers winning oh, never mind…

        You won’t ever find a dumber analysis, folks

  22. I still don’t see how this wasn’t libel. WaPo intentionally published false information that harmed Sandmann’s reputation.

    1. Did Barack Obama suffer libel when you cunts called him a foreign communist?

      1. Who the heck is on duty with the Tony handle?

        This isn’t his normal schtick.

        Whoever you are, cut it out with the language. Inept trolling is one thing, but at least have a little dignity.

      2. He was a corporatist with a foreign born parent. Close enough.

      3. The truth is an absolute defense to defamation.

        Barack Obama is a foreign communist.
        British Law declares Obama a British subject!

        If we apply the provisions of British and Kenyan law to the simple facts, which Obama claims about himself — though in truth there is no publically available documentation to confirm the truth of these facts — the inescapable conclusion is that Obama was born a British subject and is now, still to this day, a British subject: a Commonwealth citizen, to be exact.

        Obama being born in Hawaii in 1961, according to his birth certificate, also makes him US Citizen. An American communist mother and Kenyan Communist father.

        1. Just because Obama never claimed British citizenship does not mean that he could not.

          And bother his parents were raving Commie pieces of shit.

      4. You are one stupid useless pile of shit, you inbred retarded hick.

      5. I’m not a WaPo writer, so you tell me if I libeled him by having an opinion. And for all the birthers out there, prove they had a physical copy of his birth certificate when they published those conspiracy theories. WaPo had the full video and edited it.

    2. Correct, awildseaking. You do not see it. But you are mistaken.

      For instance, harm to reputation can be done on purpose, without fear of punishment, so long as no defamatory falsehoods are published. Note, not “no falsehoods.” Indeed, deliberate falsehoods can be completely okay, if they are offered as matters of opinion (which makes them not defamatory). That is basically the recipe for both satire and parody, both protected speech.

      That is not what the wapo did. There was no deliberate satire or parody. Instead, they published (arguably) mistaken and damaging opinions about what happened. That too is usually protected by the 1A. Damage is not proof of defamation. If it were, no satire or parody could be published. Those routinely seek to inflict damage to reputations.

      Falsehood is not proof of defamation. If it were, reporters’ mistakes would result in ruin, and the Supreme Court has found that the 1A can not require so stringent a standard.

      Defamatory, factual falsehoods, plus knowledge of falsehood, or reckless disregard of the truth, are the standards.

      1. The problem comes, though, when WaPo publishes damaging opinion as if it were fact. Even worse, is if it’s proven that they knew the truth, but went against what they knew to be true anyway.

        Finally, a proper defense to “but we didn’t know it was false” is to publish a story with the same prominence as the original story, proclaiming the truth, as soon as you find the truth. WaPo didn’t do this — instead, they sat on the truth for several days, and their “correction” consisted of saying that the situation was far more complex than they originally thought it was, and their “correction” wasn’t on the first page, as the original story was.

        There are standards for avoiding the charges of libel; I remember learning them in my college journalism class. The WaPo isn’t living up to these standards.

        Even if WaPo successfully gets this case thrown out, it’s clear that they aren’t a reputable paper: any paper who wishes to avoid even the appearance of libel would follow these standards. That they don’t means, at a minimum, we shouldn’t consider them journalists.

  23. Someone who sues because his feelings were hurt by speech is no hero of libertarians.

    But then there are no more libertarians, are there? Just Republican cunts.

    1. Weak attempt.

      Next time pick a case where it isn’t some random teenager on a school trip who actually comported himself with great decorum and restraint in the face of a pretty horrible and racist onslaught who is then made into a national icon of racism and white supremacy by a media propaganda machine hell-bent on finding any angle for eroding support for Trump.

      You probably had a good hot take for how Baby Jessica deserved to die in that well too….

    2. Why am I not surprised that Tony is a fan of child abuse?

    3. Are your parents still in hiding from the embarrassment of breeding such as useless turd like you?

    4. Did you watch the video? By most definitions, Phillips actually assaulted Sandmann, a minor, by barging through a crowd and banging a drum in his face. This not only has direct impact on his eardrums, but is a clear threat of violence. He then told a number of vicious and obvious lies that led to this child receiving death threats and coming under investigation for expulsion from school.

      Libertarians declare that there should be restraint in government, but assault and libel are universally considered in the purview of the courts.

  24. The frustrating part of this, and the argument over Google et al censoring views, is that regular people impacted appear to have little to no recourse. When people are frustrated, when they feel wronged and those who wronged them will face no consequences, they become irrational. They are much more likely to support extreme measures they normally would oppose. I am not certain what the answer is, but the level of duplicity allowed if you label yourself a journalist (or an internet “platform”) isn’t acceptable. I am definitely opposed to government actions (except ending regulatory capture and other forms of crony capitalism), but I am afraid of the consequences if this continues. I am not stating the media was ever any better, though papers were usually much more local. They also tended to own their partisanship rather than deny it. I cherish the Bill of Rights, but wonder if this ruling (and similar recent rulings) aren’t totally removing personal responsibility and consequences of action. I also question the judge’s findings, as he seemed to twist the idea of opinion and fact.

    1. There is a solution to it, enforce common law libel and slander. The common law is a beautiful thing. Understand, an opinion is not actionable and truth is an absolute defense to libel or slander. So, all that is being asked of journalists is to make sure that any factual statement they make is true before they make it. They can still give opinions. They just can’t say untrue things.

      I would argue that the death of libel law and the public figure standard in particular is why the media has gotten so lazy and awful. After NY v. Sullivan, the news media could say anything they wanted about anyone deemed a “public figure” as long as they didn’t know it was untrue. Literally that is the standard. They use a fancy term and call it “reckless disregard” or “actual malice” but in practice that is what it means.

      After NYT v. Sullivan reporters were relieved of the duty to tell the truth in 90% of their stories. All they had to do is not know it wasn’t true and have some reason any reason to think it was true and they could print it. Given that low standard is it any wonder journalism has stopped printing the truth or even caring if they do so?

      Let’s go back to the standard that we had for the 186 years before NYT v. Sullivan. The Republic managed to survive journalists being held accountable for damaging lies they told for all of those years. I think it could again.

      Sullum and those like him don’t want this because finding and reporting the truth is hard. Being a lazy hack who repeats whatever talking points your side puts out that day is easy.

      1. One detail:

        They have to provably know it is not true. Which is an even lower bar. Because how tough is it to prove that I know something isn’t true? You not only have to show that I had a fact in my hands, but that it was not possible to have doubts about one set of information and more confidence in another set.

        1. That is a good point. It is very difficult to imagine a realistic set of circumstances where a public figure could win a libel or slander suit.

  25. Exit Sandmann.

  26. Isn’t everything a “matter of opinion”? It’s one person’s opinion that this is fact. It’s another’s that it isn’t. Facts are relative and subjective depending on your perspective. “Libel” is opinion. “Offensiveness” is opinion. “Harm” is opinion. There is no reality. We are all living in a fantasy. Nothing really exists. (Seriously?)

    1. The idea that facts are subjective is part of the problem. Facts are objective. Your interpretation of them is subjective.

      1. For example: Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. This is a fact.
        As opposed to: in an unrpovoked act, Japan sneak attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
        The first is objective, it provides information without interpretation. The second provides interpretation and judgement, this is subjective.

        1. Another example: in July of 1863 Vicksburg surrendered and Lee’s summer offensive was stopped at Gettysburg.
          Subjective: July of 1863 marked the end of the Confederacy with union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg.

        2. Still another degree of subjectivity, the American knew of the attack beforehand but used it as a ruse to enter the war.

    2. “Isn’t everything a “matter of opinion”?”

      The mere existence of libel law would tend to indicate that this is – if only legally speaking – NOT the case.

      And, since this is a legal case…

  27. “However, Phillips did not see it that way. He concluded that he was being “blocked” and not allowed to “retreat.” He passed these conclusions on to The Post. They may have been erroneous, but…they are opinion protected by the First Amendment.”

    Whether someone can physically remove oneself from a situation – which they guy could looking at the video – is objectively verifiable. Whether he had apprehension about doing so is less-so (although the video plainly shows him to be the banal antagonist), but his statement wasn’t opinion.

    1. Whether he had apprehension about doing so is less-so

      That is still a fact. Either he did or he didn’t. It is exactly the kind of issue that a jury considers. He says he did. It is up to the jury to decide whether to believe that.

    2. The statement was a fucking LIE. As was his claim to feel threatened, which is obvious looking at the video. His claims as to what he think he heard are less provably so, but I have an opinion.

      Apparently the Post, viewing things through the haze of intersectionality, decided it could not challenge a brown man’s version of events. The path toward a contingent reality does not end at a happy utopian destination.

  28. For a paper that took out ‘because democracy’ ads during the SB to go ahead and act with such reckless irresponsibility only further cements the view that legacy media is not dying but dead.

    There was no excuse other than to formulate a narrative. They knew damn well what they were doing and that was to make Catholic boys look like the bad guys. In today’s anti-christian, anti white male atmosphere of toxic ideological nonsense, it was a double whammy they couldn’t resist.

    They’re clowns.

    As for the judge, a Democrat, the bizarre part is he didn’t let the evidence be adduced. All his claims could have been discovered then.

  29. Between “‘What constitutes ‘taunting’ is a subjective matter of opinion,’ Bertelsman says.” and “The words must be given their ordinary, natural meaning as defined by the average lay person.” it sounds like a pretty clear-cut question for a jury to deliberate on to me.

  30. I dismiss everything WaPo and NYT print as lies or distortions. Most of the media are simple propagandists.

    I hope young Sandman drives some of them into bankruptcy.

    1. Propaganda is not illegal.

      1. Sure, but when it is both false and causes harm to a private individual it is a tort.

  31. “I SHOULD BE ABLE TO SAY WHATEVER LIES I WANT WITHOUT REPERCUSSIONS!!!” screeched the cosmotarian shill. “ORANGE MAN BAD!!! ORANGE MAN BAD!!! ORANGE MAN BAD!!!”

  32. Good article.

    The court was correct. This was not deserving of a lawsuit.

    1. Why? Back up your argument. Otherwise I can post.
      The court was incorrect. This was a deserving of a lawsuit.
      Same logic you showed, different answer.

      1. So I am not an attorney

        My simple reply.

        Civil law suite, the burden of proof is upon the plaintiff.

        Defamation is difficult to prove in US law. It is not enough to show that you were factually incorrect. You need to show malice and certain knowledge that the report was incorrect before it was published.

        That is not easy to do.

        So what else do you have to have to back up the allegation?

        1. Well, for one thing, the judge found for dismissal using evidentiary findings that are, you know, the things the trial is to determine. What I’m hearing, in legal terms, is that his findings were inappropriate for consideration of a request to dismiss.

          This has not gone away. It has, however, smoked out a lot of scumbags who like the MSM having the power to destroy with impunity.

  33. Does it hurt being this ignorant Sullum?
    Or just normal for a Progressive propagandist?

    1. He’s apparently gotten used to the dull pain by now.

  34. In fact the case has not been dismissed, simply moved to a higher court on appeal. Currently the Post is being viewed as not guilty, but the is significant legal opinion that thinks that will change.

    1. Why would that be good, from a libertarian perspective?

      Do liberals get to sue the entire fever swamp of right-wing media that lies about them every minute of every day?

      1. I wouldn’t mind if liberals get to sue, because conservatives will have a field day with the left-wing media under the same rules.

        And maybe, just maybe, it will be good for libertarians, because they can finally sue all those people who call them Nazis (because nothing says “Nazi” more than “Non agression principle” and “Follow the darn 2nd Amendment”!).

  35. Fun game. Which is worse:

    A) The almost total genocide of the Native Americans
    b) Some MAGA hat kid got his feelings hurt by the washington post

    1. Is it your theory that since the Washington Post’s actions were not the worst thing that ever happened to anyone ever, they are therefore not actionable?

  36. Wow, that judge really walks between the raindrops?

    When he needs to rely on the literal meaning of a word — what the Post said wasn’t “about” him, it was merely about a group of people, of which group he was the only person publicly known; when the Post published a photo of him with much lamentation about racism, they were calling him personally a racist — that’s fine; but when he needs to disregard the literal meaning of “taunts” or of “blocked”, then well, jeez, all words are subject to interpretation.

    I’m sure the judge won’t mind when I say most judges are pedophiles — not him necessarily, but I’m not denying either — and that he molested my neighbor’s 12-year-old — well, maybe not literally molested but the kid wasn’t happy with this decision, which is what I mean by “molested”.

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