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Free Speech

Lawsuit Over Fox News' Supposed Coronavirus Misrepresentations Rejected


From yesterday's Washington Court of Appeals decision in WASHLITE v. Fox News (opinion by Acting Chief Judge Beth Andrus, joined by Judges Linda Coburn and Cecily Hazelrigg):

On April 2, 2020, WASHLITE brought this lawsuit, alleging that Fox hosts and television personalities violated the CPA [Washington Consumer Protection Act] by making statements, on-air, downplaying the danger posed by the coronavirus, describing the pandemic as a "hoax," and accusing government officials and media organizations of exaggerating the danger posed by COVID-19 in an attempt to undermine former President Donald J. Trump. {WASHLITE alleged, for example, that on March 7, 2020, Fox host Judge Jeanine Pirro (ret.) stated on her show that "the talk about coronavirus being much more deadly (than the flu) doesn't reflect reality." On March 8, 2020, host Pete Hegspeth stated "[t]he more I learn about coronavirus, the less concerned I am." On March 11, 2020, host Matt Schlapp stated "[i]t is very very difficult to contract this virus." And on March 13, 2020, host Ainsley Earhardt stated "it is actually the safest time to fly."} WASHLITE sought to enjoin Fox from airing any further misinformation about COVID-19, to require Fox to retract prior false statements, and to pay damages to unnamed "John Doe" consumers….

WASHLITE initially argues that Fox's cable content does not enjoy full independent protections under the First Amendment because cable providers, through which Fox offers its programming, retain a degree of editorial control over that content….[But t]he fact that a cable operator may curtail the speech of Fox hosts on its own channels does not mean that the State, through judicial action, may do the same…. And [WASHLITE's] argument is inconsistent with the court's holding in Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. F.C.C. (1994), where … the court recognized that both "[c]able programmers and cable operators engage in and transmit speech" and thus "are entitled to the protection of the speech and press provisions of the First Amendment." The fact that Fox offers its programming through cable providers does not lessen the extent of the First Amendment protections it enjoys in the context of direct state regulation….

WASHLITE next argues that Fox's statements regarding the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, made during a global pandemic, are not protected because they are false. We reject this contention because the challenged statements implicate matters of public concern and thereby fall squarely within First Amendment protections….

[WASHLITE] contends that content-based regulation is permissible in this instance because false statements regarding threats to public health fall within an exception to the First Amendment's broad protections. To support its assertion, WASHLITE argues content-based regulation of speech is permissible in several instances: false statements to the government prohibited under 18 U.S.C § 1001 and RCW 9A.76.175, speech inciting lawless action, terroristic threats, and defamation. WASHLITE argues false statements regarding threats to public health are analogous and that, "[b]ootstrapping these concepts to this case, Fox cannot reasonably deny that it knew that characterizing COVID-19 as a hoax was false…. It acted with reckless disregard for the truth of COVID-19 when it regularly broadcast that the virus was a hoax or words to that effect." … [But] WASHLITE cites no authority for the proposition that false statements about threats to public health, even if recklessly made, fall within any exception to the First Amendment. To the contrary, the Supreme Court in Alvarez disavowed the principle that false expressions in general receive a lesser degree of constitutional protections simply by virtue of being false. The court stated that its precedent restricting the value or protections afforded objectively false statements

all derive from cases discussing defamation, fraud, or some other legally cognizable harm associated with a false statement, such as an invasion of privacy or the costs of vexatious litigation. In those decisions the falsity of the speech at issue was not irrelevant to our analysis, but neither was it determinative. The Court has never endorsed the categorical rule the Government advances: that false statements receive no First Amendment protection.

The court went on to explain that,

[w]ere the Court to hold that the interest in truthful discourse alone is sufficient to sustain a ban on speech, absent any evidence that the speech was used to gain a material advantage, it would give government a broad censorial power unprecedented in this Court's cases or in our constitutional tradition.

WASHLITE's allegations that the challenged statements are false and recklessly made simply cannot overcome the protections afforded speech on matters of public concern under the First Amendment, even in the face of the State's undoubtedly compelling interest in the public dissemination of accurate information regarding threats to public health.

The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it.

United States v. Stevens (2010).

"If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable." Texas v. Johnson (1989). Although WASHLITE pursues the meritorious goal of ensuring that the public receives accurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenged statements do not fall within the narrow exceptions to the First Amendment's protections. We affirm the trial court's conclusion that, however laudable WASHLITE's intent, its CPA claim is barred by the First Amendment.

I think this is generally quite right, certainly as to the "cable television is unprotected" argument (see this post) and likely also as to the "false statements about epidemics are unprotected" argument. In addition to the Alvarez plurality statements cited by the Washington court, note that five Justices and three dissenting Justices in Alvarez agreed that

[T]here are broad areas in which any attempt by the state to penalize purportedly false speech would present a grave and unacceptable danger of suppressing truthful speech…. Laws restricting false statements about philosophy, religion, history, the social sciences, the arts, and the like raise such concerns, and in many contexts have called for strict scrutiny. But this case does not involve such a law.

That's from Justice Breyer's two-Justice concurrence, but Justice Alito's three-Justice dissent took the same view, adding "The point is not that there is no such thing as truth or falsity in these areas or that the truth is always impossible to ascertain, but rather that it is perilous to permit the state to be the arbiter of truth." I think this logic applies to statements about medical science as well as social science.

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  1. "On March 8, 2020, host Pete Hegspeth stated "[t]he more I learn about coronavirus, the less concerned I am.""

    I'm at a loss how anyone who didn't mean to lose in court would cite this as a 'misrepresentation'; Did they have evidence that he was growing increasingly concerned?

    1. If you take each statement on their own, they won't seem quite so bad. The trends across all of FOX, but especially its opinion programs, all reinforced the notion that COVID wasn't anything to worry about, that it was largely political hype, etc. Taken in that context, the statement you quote merely supports the claim that FOX had a cohesive COVID message that was largely false and unethical.

      1. It seems to me that the heart of this is that "wasn't anything to worry about" isn't an objective enough question to be the basis for such a lawsuit. Whether something is worth worrying about is a classic matter of opinion.

      2. Brett and I disagree about how worried we should be about COVID-19. However, to think that statements such as the one quoted are more an a matter opinion as opposed to deliberately false statements of fact is prposterous

        1. The doctrine that "error has no rights" is becoming deplorably widespread, and following in it's wake is the inevitable corollary: "What I don't want to have rights must be error."

          In fact, the quoted statements are definitively expressions of opinion, in as much as they lack any quantitative element.

          Can you objectively confirm that Hegspeth wasn't becoming less concerned, for instance? Exactly how difficult is 'very difficult'?

          The phrase, "that the virus was a hoax or words to that effect." makes me very curious indeed what precise words we're discussing. Surely that matters.

          1. Let's just note that you have selected one of four cited examples to defend Fox.

            The others:

            on March 7, 2020, Fox host Judge Jeanine Pirro (ret.) stated on her show that "the talk about coronavirus being much more deadly (than the flu) doesn't reflect reality."

            On March 11, 2020, host Matt Schlapp stated "[i]t is very very difficult to contract this virus."

            And on March 13, 2020, host Ainsley Earhardt stated "it is actually the safest time to fly."}

    2. You'd think a survival percentage above 99% for all but people above 70 should be something you're less concerned about.

  2. It is amazing how popular censorship has become in certain circles. Perhaps these people should contemplate what having the same tools in the hands of those with whom they disagree would look like.

    Credit to the Washington Court of Appeals for rigorously enforcing the First Amendment.

    1. Look, the point of deploying the censorship is actually to make sure that those whom they disagree with never DO get in that position. It's kind of like telling somebody holding a gun on you, "You shouldn't shoot me, imagine what I'll do when our positions are reversed!"

  3. Good the hear, the left and democrats have been going on a censorship and fascism spree lately and at least some courts are sober and serious.

    1. The three judges on the court who squashed this were Democrats, but hey, when all you've got is a hammer...

      1. Try to grow up. Censorhip has become popular among much of the left and many Democrats. That does not mean that there are not some Democrats who respect the First Amendment and free speech. The two concepts are not mutually contradictory. That these three jurists came to the right decision does not mean others of the same nominal party think differently.

        1. Censorship is popular on both sides of political spectrum against whatever types of speech they disagree with (see, e.g., right wing moaning about CRT). I've not seen anyone even attempt to put together evidence that either liberal or conservative lawmakers or judges are more likely to support it than their counterparts across the aisle.

          1. "see, e.g., right wing moaning about CRT"

            Stop beclowning yourself. If you do not understand the difference between enjoining a news outlet from speaking its mind and determining what a school's curriculum is, and how that relates to censorship, then let me suggest you go back to civics class.

            1. I'm not sure that distinction matters here. I think if CNN were pushing critical race theory and schools wanted to teach that Covid is a nothingburger, we'd see the same cast of characters trying to shut down both.

              I'm pretty close to an absolutist on the First Amendment, and I see worrisome trends toward censorship on both sides. This is not a problem restricted to just one side.

              1. I'm pretty sure the distinction matters. You are entitled to believe anything you want, and advocate for it, even the sheerest nonsense (e.g., the theory that the earth is flat) , and the First Amendment protects you from government interference.

                It does not protect you from others thinking you are a fool. And, more to the point, it does not mean that parents of school children do not have good reason to object to schools teaching their children the same nonsense (flat-earth).

                It is a fairly simple distinction.

                1. That is something normally decided at the school board level, though — not the legislature. Can you think of another example where the state legislature passed a law forbidding so much as the discussion of certain ideas?

                  In any case, the claim above was about censorship (and fascism), not about the contours of the 1A. And there is no reason to think the left is more censorious than the right. Both want to suppress ideas they don't like.

          2. "(see, e.g., right wing moaning about CRT)."

            Here is a video of children doing math problems under the new California Math Framework. The students just re-write the problems to be PC and move on without solving them.

            For example, one problem was, "Ms. Hernandez knitted a scarf for her grandson. The scarf is 5/6 of one yard long and 2/9 of one yard wide. What is the area of the scarf?"

            The students just changed Ms. Hernandez to Mr. Hernandez and grandson to grandchild.

            The video is referenced in Ch 2. of the new framework.

            1. Seems to be an anonymous video on Youtube ('Author Author?')...

              1. As I said in the comment, it's referenced from Chapter 2 of the new California Math Framework.. The chapter outlines what's taking place in the video.

                1. Ok, so you've left quite a bit of context out here, no? The guidance talks about lots of mathy math type of stuff. This is one type of critical thinking exercises or approaches that have the students explore gender bias in word problems. I'm not sure what's problematic about that, I don't think my school should be pushing math word problems on my kids pushing them to gender assumptions that the state pushed for most of our history, I'm certainly not worked up about some time being taken to teach students to be able to spot and critique that.

                  1. 1. It doesn't have anything to do with math.

                    2. Just because a problem has a women knitting mean it's gender biased. Plenty of women knit.

                    1. 1. A lot of educators think we need to get passed cordoning off thinking by disciplines.

                      2. A reason why lots of women knit and many men don't is the push for traditional gender roles that has gone on for most of our history. Having students question the assumptions from that legacy is not a bad thing at all.

                    2. "A lot of educators think we need to get passed cordoning off thinking by disciplines."

                      A lot of parents think children should come out of classes understanding the nominal topic of the class. Like being able to solve math word problems, rather than critique them.

                      Maybe those educators want to teach something other than the actual discipline, so they've decided they're going to replace the actual guts of the class with something else. So the parents think, "Good, little Johnny is learning math!" when he's actually learning to stand stereotypes on their heads.

                      Learning to identify stereotypes is actually a useful skill, (Understanding that stereotypes are usually statistically accurate generalizations is also useful...) but it's not a math skill.

                  2. That is idiotic...its math..and most of this "historical" sunk cost issues is total BS...sure let's lower the standards so you get the social outcomes that make you feel good about yourself..what bullshit..

                    Departments of Education should be abolished..they serve no purpose in education.

                2. I actually think liberty is furthered if kids don't get fed a ton of assumptions at an early, impressionable age about how boys don't knit, girls knit, etc., etc.

                  1. I actually think a functioning modern society is furthered if kids get taught how to do math.

                    And this isn't avoiding feeding them assumptions. It's deliberately feeding them contrary, less statistically accurate, assumptions.

            2. "Ms. Hernandez knitted a scarf for her grandson"

              OMG, how cis-normative! Horrors!

              1. It's about questioning the assumption that women knit, men don't. That is a very common assumption and it's pretty likely not 'natural' but produced via some extensive social construction.

                1. Setting aside that it's an observation rather than an assumption, what value does it have to learning math to question it?

                  And whether it's natural or socially constructed seems far beyond the competence of math educators to determine.

                  1. About the only relevance to math class would be illustrating the difference between statistical generalizations and individualized data. It's fairly important to understand that a stereotype can actually be an accurate generalization, AND not tell you anything about any individual you meet.

                2. You err.

                  Ms. Hernandez is a trans-man, who does not have children. At least not natural one. She was born a man, and identified as a woman.

                  And her "grandson." I mean how bigoted can you get. He should be called her "second generation cared-for immature unit." 'Grandson" is so 1980s.

                3. " it’s pretty likely not ‘natural’ but produced via some extensive social construction."

                  Let's say you are right (although the phenomenon is both ancient and widespread. But whatever).

                  What does that have to do with anything? The whole point of a world problem in math is to apply mathematical concepts to familiar events. A grandmother knitting a scarf is such.

                  There could be a math problem about a baseball team that won the league championship, and the coach wants to buy them hamburgers to celebrate. If there are nine members on the team, and each hamburger costs $ 1.49, then how much money does coach need for the celebration?

                  Are baseball, hamburgers and team celebrations culturally determined? Sure. Might the facts need be changed if the problem were presented to children in India or China? Sure. But so what? The point is to have children apply math to a familiar, real life situation.

                4. "It’s about questioning the assumption that women knit, men don’t."

                  So, if I said my wife cooked dinner last night, I REALLY meant men do not cook. Ever.

                  Nice logic.

            3. This example is another travesty of what passes for education.

          3. "moaning about CRT" is hardly censorship.
            CRT is an offensive structurally racist theory, but its proponents are welcome to mouth such ninsense

          4. Polls have shown the increase in public support for banning misinformation online is almost exclusively an increase amongst the Left. Independents and conservatives have not changed in their view.

        2. All those leftist Democrats cheering Trump as he advocated firing people for their speech, 'tightening up' libel laws, revoking broadcast licenses, etc.,. yeah.

          1. Yes, Trump had little regard for the First Amendment (except when it suited him, of course), and his many cheerleaders cheered that on. None of that contradicts what I said.

            Really, do you live in a binary world, where everything is about Trump or the other side?

            1. I think both sides are fine with a lot of censorship.

            2. It might be outdated, but Eugene posted a series on liberal versus conservative attitudes on freedom of speech that did not support conclusion.

  4. Perhaps Eugene is right that false statements about medical science are presumptively protected speech, but the judge ought to know better than to rely on the plurality opinion in Alvarez rather than Breyer's concurrence.

  5. Anyone going to sue the CDC for telling us last year that we all just needed to wear masks for a couple of weeks to flatten the curve?

    1. Yeah, changing advice in dealing with a novel virus and fluid situation must be nefarious.

      1. Who said nefarious? You don't have to believe anyone was "nefarious" to accept the objective fact that the CDC initial pronouncement turned out to be false.

        The point is that the First Amendment doesn't give the CDC an exclusive right to have incorrect opinions. We've all got that right and Fox definitely exercises it sometimes.

        1. There is a difference between providing the best advice given current science (CDC) and intentionally misinforming the public about current science because it raises profits (FOX).

          "Incorrect opinions" is just newspeak for "my lies are just as good as your science."

          1. "intentionally misinforming the public about current science " is exactly what the CDC did in the pandemic's early days, out of concern that there wouldn't be enough masks for healthcare workers.

          2. Yeah, yeah. *Our* falsehoods are honest errors and noble lies; *their* falsehoods are evil conspiracies and dastardly plots.

            Whether you realize it or not, your justification is precisely the same one offered by every leader that who infringed on freedom of speech.

            Also, it's a major tell when you throw in "profit" when trying to smear your opponents. Those of us who aren't socialists don't think profit is any worse a motive for wrongdoing than the envy, class-hatred and lust for power that motivates government and NGO liars.

            Oh, and what ZZtop8970 said.

          3. The CDC gave that advice knowing full well it was wrong. They lied to Americans to try to save N95 masks and respirators for healthcare workers and first responders.

          4. There is a difference between providing the best advice given current science (CDC)
            Do you mean the science the CDC used when they advised against using masks because they have never been shown to be effective protection against a virus? Or the science the CDC used when they said masks are almost as effective as a vaccine.

      2. Fauci is on record stating that the initial CDC guidance dismissing mask effectiveness was made knowing it was false, out of concern that there won't be enough PPE for healthcare workers. It had nothing whatsoever to do with "a fluid situation" or lack of knowledge.
        Good intentions, perhaps, but false statements nonetheless, which no doubt killed quite a few people who took the CDC guidance seriously at the time.

        1. Wouldn't the temporary lack of enough masks fall under 'fluid situation?'

          1. Intentionally telling people something they didn't think was true certainly fell under "lying".

            And once people catch you in a lie, why should they believe you going forward just because you claim you stopped lying?

            1. To me CDC certainly has undermine any credibility related to coronaviruses. I withhold any judgement until I can find supporting studies in the peer-reviewed medical literature.

        2. "Fauci is on record stating that the initial CDC guidance dismissing mask effectiveness was made knowing it was false, out of concern that there won’t be enough PPE for healthcare workers."


          1. Since you've been living under a rock: public health experts "were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.”

            1. That's a neat quote, but can you cite the one that says your claim of "“Fauci is on record stating that the initial CDC guidance dismissing mask effectiveness was made knowing it was false,"?

              1. If they were trying to save them for medical staff, they obviously knew or believed they were useful.
                But told they public not to wear them because they are not effective.
                Noble lies that killed hundreds if not thousands.

                1. That's not very good logic, maybe they thought they were effective in health care settings but not in general public settings. That's common. For example, Washing your hands after each interaction is good for health care professionals, it's not a bad idea for the general public, but it's just not relatively important for the latter so it's not pushed much if at all there.

                  1. Oh, please stop tying yourself in knots trying to rationalize away the lie.

                    They lied. That's the simple truth of it.

                  2. QA,
                    Fess up. CDC knowingly issued a false statement. The motive does not matter. Time after time CDC officials have undermined their credibility.
                    So when they issue a NY Health Dept report a week ago that the decline in vaccine effectiveness is minor, and when that report contradicts a larger, better conducted Israel study with far greater access to patient data that finds a marked decreased in vaccine efficacy, which do I believe?
                    The Israeli study not the one promulgated by the CDC that coincidentally happens to support the Administration's COVID "policy."

                  3. They actively advocated AGINST mask usage.
                    And we have that pesky admission from Fauci that the reason was that they wanted to save mask for HC workers, given the shortage, nothing about efficacy for HC workers, but not for general public (which is of course nonsense, including your example - hand washing is as effective a mechanism to rid your hands of germs for the general public as it is for HC workers. It may be more important that HC workers wash their hands, but not because its effectiveness)

                    1. which is of course nonsense

                      No. Regardless of the rest of this discussion, the view was that N95 masks conferred most of their benefit if they were worn correctly, and that the general public would not do so because they did not have the proper training.

                    2. "general public would not do so because they did not have the proper training."
                      Do you mean the general public does not have sufficient reading comprehension to read the directions and follow them?

          2. You're not going to get one.

            Fauci didn't say that at all. He said that people didn't need to wear masks during the very early period of the pandemic, specifically because there were not enough masks to protect the health care workers that millions of people were about to rely upon for treatment and care.

            His concern was demonstrated to be true, as we had a shortage of PPE for those workers while Joe Dipshit was hoarding tens of thousands of masks in their garages looking to make obscene and illegal profits off of them.

            1. To me I need more information. If Fauci or the CDC *knew at the time* that masks for the general public would most likely be good for protecting those who wore them and then told people they weren't (not simply 'downplayed'), then that's a knowing falsehood even if his intentions were noble (to make sure there were enough masks for health care workers at the time).

            2. I just gave you more than one. The Surgeon General was direct in his guidance not to wear masks: "Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!. They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus" - SG Adams on Twitter , Feb 29, 2020

              1. Your source says Adams changed his direction based on evolving information: "However, on April 1, Adams said he had asked the CDC to look into whether masks should in fact be recommended for the public, saying “we now know there is a significant amount of asymptomatic spread.”"

                1. And I gave you the Fauci quote, from a much later time, admitting it was just concern that there wouldn't be enough for HC workers.

                  1. So, wait, are you conceding the Adams point you led with here was a nothingburger?

                    1. Because, I mean, you led with it here so confidently. When I looked up the context and pushed back you just went on to something else. One might think that indicates some motivated reasoning in general on your part?

                    2. No, but we're on the verge of conceding that you're utterly hopeless.

              2. That just shows that he was wrong, not that he was lying.

                Ironically, the same people calling him and Fauci liars for saying that masks don't work are the people who themselves now vociferously claim that masks don't work!

            3. Joe Dipshit was hoarding tens of thousands of masks

              You misspelled 'China', and it was 10's of millions.

              Give President Trump credit. He indentified the safety and security concern about farming out critical manufacturing to China, and was working to reverse the dependence.

      3. Look QA, CDC has issued statements and reports that 1) it has known are false or 2) proof of the incompetence of its scientific staff.
        I'd bet on #1

  6. I like how VC gets the case before it is posted to the court’s website.

    Pltf’s argument, if it had won, could have been used against FB, Twitter, etc.

    Briefs here;

    1. Pltf’s argument, if it had won, could have been used against FB, Twitter, etc.


  7. "WASHLITE next argues that Fox's statements regarding the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, made during a global pandemic, are not protected because they are false"

    Oh, wow.

    if we can go after every single person who said something false about Covid-19 in the last 18 months, the jails are going to be full of "public health" officials.

    Also, everyone who quoted Rebekah Jones.

    Oh, and if we can go after people for false statements? Let's removed from the airwaves every single person who pushed the Trump-Russia collusion lies.

    The vapid stupidity, cluelessness, and dishonesty of the Left is a never ending disaster

  8. At the time those statements were made, Fauci just becoming more concerned about Covid-19 than how bad the flu season had been. It was about the time he changed his mind about masking.

    Everybody seems to have been shooting from the hip and spreading incorrect information in the spring of 2020, mainly because so little was known about the virus in March 2020.

    Making false statements is generally not a criminal or civil offense. If anyone should have been punished it should have been Clapper and Brennan on the Russia investigation, as their lies were to Congressional committees while under oath.

    1. It was alright in their case, because they told the truth in the secret session, and the majority were happy to have the public lies spread.

  9. Poorly educated, superstitious, virus-flouting, lethally reckless, belligerently ignorant, science-disdaining, delusional conservatives have rights, too.

    Carry on, clingers . . . so far as your betters permit.

    1. Considering it is the WOKE progressives that are ignoring science on masking, GMO, etc. your comment makes no sense.

      If you think Pelosi, Biden, Schumer, and AOC are our "betters," then you are delusional.

      1. I'm glad to find an epidemiologist here who knows who is ignoring the science on masking. Can you fill us in on where you got your Phd in that and your experience in the area?

      2. Kyle,
        You must be talking back to Artie K. Pathetic the guy is. His lines are always the same crappola.

        1. Don Nico, his lines are usually the same crappola. From time to time he puts in some effort. The result shows writing talent, with notably original phrase making. Even at his worst, he is tedious a lot more than he is wrong. There may be more light under his bushel than he shows to this venue.

          1. Is it remarkable that responses to the content of this White, male, movement conservative blog are similar to the content of this White, male, movement conservative blog (“usually the same crappola”)?

            I wish this blog provided more new or interesting material to work with. But most of the content is just the same old red meat tossed (by a dwindling number of active Conspirators) to a carefully cultivated, calculatedly lathered class of disaffected, right-wing, faux libertarian commenters.

            Can anyone identify an interesting right-wing legal blog? I’d like to think conservatives could do better.

  10. I'm not arguing for censorship here but I think there ought to be consequences for journalists intentionally deceiving their audience to such a degree that while over 600K Americans died they thought it was a hoax because the "most watched" news network in the country said it was.

    I used to think that people who lied would be held accountable by their audiences, would lose trust and respect, and that these consequences would guide their choices and limit their behavior. Well, we now know that isn't true.

    1. Do you also think there ought to be consequences for CDC officials, or Fauci for intentionally deceiving their audience to such a degree that while the CDC knew mask were effective, they told the public not to wear them, and many listened? How many of those 600K deaths do you think would have been avoided if the CDC told the public that mask are effective in March ?

      1. Based on Shawn's earlier comment, I'm guessing he thinks it's OK for the CDC because they're non-profit.

        1. Thinking the CDC is nonprofit is a bit of a joke. They're all getting paid, aren't they? Pretty handsomely, as a matter of fact.

          How is that different from profit? What's wrong with profit, anyway?

          1. "They’re all getting paid, aren’t they? "
            That is a nice bit of sophistry regarding "non-profit"

            1. Look, what's this supposed moral high ground about "non-profit"?

              Some organizations are genuinely "non-profit", charities that barely pay most of their employees living wages. If the cause they're serving is worthy, that's laudable. But even if it isn't, they've earned their 'non-profit' designation.

              Others are only "non-profit" in the sense that they don't report a profit or distribute dividends. But everybody in them is out for the money, and the people at the top are rolling in dough. (Like Fauci.)

              Now, being out for the money isn't bad, provided you have scruples about means. Everybody's got to live, and providing something people value in return for getting paid isn't charity, but it isn't chopped liver, either. If the customers of an only nominally 'non-profit' org have a choice about being customers, as opposed to maybe facing jail time if they don't pony up, there's nothing wrong about it.

              But calling a government agency a "non-profit" just because they don't distribute dividends is a bad joke. Well paid people there for the money, and the customers don't even have a choice about buying the product. Nothing particularly admirable about that.

              1. "Look, what’s this supposed moral high ground about “non-profit”?"
                Yes. I get that and agree with you.
                It's a typical piece of socialist drivel. And calling any organization that is funded by the police power of the state "non-profit" is joke.

    2. Let's also have consequences for the officials in charge of the agencies that botched Covid testing in this country, and refused to allow use of any other tests, even though they existed and were available.

      Let's have consequences for the officials who told people out was perfectly safe to go out to crowded shipping districts, or to enjoy a night on the town, just because testing was too far behind to identify the outbreaks blossoming in NYC and San Francisco.

    3. Shawn,
      Can you point out clear, unambiguous instances in which Fox on it news segments announced that COVID-19 is a hoax?

    4. deceiving their audience to such a degree that while over 600K Americans died
      There you go spreading the '600K' lie. People died of covid only at about the 10% range of reported deaths. I know Iowa is at ~6000 reported deaths from covid. Investigations show 570 deaths with no contributing factors. No deaths for 5-18 year olds, but somehow all the experts are crazy nuts about protecting children.

      The short answer....lots of deceiving still going on.

      1. "here you go spreading the ‘600K’ lie."
        If you believe that then you are pathetically delusional.
        Good luck with your life.

        "lots of deceiving still going on."
        You are a contributor to the great wingnut deception

        1. I find it plausible that 600K or so died with Covid. Though 'inferred' cases that aren't based on actual tests have me wondering.

          That 600K died of Covid, I have a bit more skepticism about. People die all the time, and Covid isn't even a leading cause of death, but it is something hospitals will test you for if you show up with a gunshot wound, say.

          I think the distinction between "with" and "of" is not one we're paying medical professionals to make.

          1. "the distinction between “with” and “of” is not one we’re paying medical professionals to make."
            To be accurate that distinction would require an autopsy by an experienced pathologist in most cases. With so many deaths and with hospitals under pressure that certainly is not going to happen.

            My daughter is a board certified pathologist who has dome many autopsies; her workload did not diminish or shift after the start of the pandemic. Nor did the workload in the medical examiners office. Hence while the distinction is a legitimate one, it is not one that one is going to get accurate data about.

  11. Are there any sanctions that Fox might get? Attorneys fees at least?

  12. Tangentially related. I'd been rather amazed at how little the institutional 'conservative' ecosystem had Trump's back. I'd assumed the Republican establishment wanted rid of him.

    Seems there was more to it than that.

    How The National Review Sold Its Soul to Google

    1. It's Emerald Robinson, the Sidney Powell of Mollie Hemingways. LOL. There is, of course, not the slightest evidence to support her statements anywhere in her piece. She figured out that think tanks that support free enterprise… continue to support free enterprise, and pats herself on the back for it.

      I’d been rather amazed at how little the institutional ‘conservative’ ecosystem had Trump’s back.

      Why? Trump wasn't and isn't a conservative. It's only CINOs who supported Trump.

  13. I think the decision on the suit was correct but that the decision to add “supposed” in the headline is idiotic.

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