Today’s Times had this informative and provocative opinion from Aziz Huq, a professor of law at the (notably not liberal–my perception) University of Chicago.
Informative, because I didn’t know federal government officials–such as, say, the Twittler–were immune from defamation lawsuits.
I have wondered.
How did this gap in defamation law arise?
Me: Wow, I didn’t know there was one! Thus, I have bolded the reality in the paragraph below.
When the government harms someone, a 1946 law called the Federal Tort Claims Act generally provides a judicial remedy. In 1988, in the Westfall Act, Congress amended the earlier act to cover most personal injury claims brought against federal officials. These laws, however, carve out immunities for government officials when it comes to “libel, slander, misrepresentation” as well as “deceit.”
How many of you were sitting around wondering whether thousands of people should be suing Trump, but weren’t? Well, that’s why. If you’re hanging around Trump and he deliberately trips you and you break bones, you can sue him. If he calls you a lying witch in a tweet–and you are not a lying witch–and it does damage to your reputation…you can’t sue him.
Mr. Huq has a solution to this alarming gap in defamation law. Read the piece to find out what it is. Unfortunately, it would depend on Congress doing what’s called, um, what is that word? Oh, yeah: legislation.
Meanwhile, back at the you-can-sue-but-it-might-get-summarily-dismissed ranch, there’s Eric Bolling and alleged pictures of some allegedly naked alleged male alleged appendage photographs allegedly sent to female associates, and Fox suspends him…
Eric Bolling, the suspended Fox News host, initiated a $50 million defamation lawsuit on Wednesday against the author of a HuffPost report that said Mr. Bolling had sent lewd photographs to three female colleagues.
The article, by Yashar Ali, cited a dozen unidentified people who said that Mr. Bolling had “sent an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News.” On Saturday, a day after the article was published, Fox News said it had suspended Mr. Bolling pending an investigation into the accusations. The network said it had learned about the allegations following an inquiry from HuffPost.
Mr. Bolling is seeking at least $50 million in reputational, monetary and punitive damages and other costs, according to a summons filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The summons cites what it calls Mr. Ali’s “efforts to injure the plaintiff’s reputation through the intentional and/or highly reckless publication of actionable false and misleading statements about the plaintiff’s conduct and character.”
I so want to write something here about Fox’s reputation for a certain culture, and Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and who else have they fired recently? But I don’t want to begin thinking I’m important enough to be sued by Eric Bolling.
UPDATE 8/12/2017. Yashar Ali’s lawyer, Patricia L. Glaser, sent a letter to Bolling’s lawyer saying, in part, “Truth is always a defense to defamation.” Which it is. She has demanded that Bolling “dismiss the legal action immediately and warned that should Mr. Bolling refuse, he could face legal claims for ‘malicious prosecution.'”
Ooh, I love it: lawsuit atop of lawsuit. The joy of countersuing, especially when you’re foolishly sued for defamation.
Here’s the Times follow up story: Source: Author of HuffPost Article Fights Possible Defamation Suit by Fox News Host – The New York Times
FURTHER UPDATE 8/14/2017. Or maybe I should say 1933? Because when I was in the Times clipping the above article–searching on “defamation suit”–I saw what follows. About which I had to blink hard a couple of times. “Long”? Did they mean “Huey Long”? But wait, Huey Long…isn’t around anymore.
No, he isn’t but the Times marvelous archives are. Look at what startled me, although you might not be able to get into the entire story. Just in case you’d want to. (How much did she get–if she did get anything–and how much was $250,000 worth in today’s dollars? A heap, I’d guess.)
Source: WOMAN SUES LONG FOR ‘DEFAMATION’ – Wife of Ex-Governor Pleasant of Louisiana Also Charges Expulsion From Capitol. ASKS $250,000 DAMAGES Husband Heads Counsel — Senator in Washington Denies He Ordered Ejection. – Article – NYTimes.com