When Government Defames

In Media, Misleading Information, New York Times Editorial On

CHICAGO — Imagine that a senior government official takes to Twitter, makes a call to a national news outlet or goes on national television to disparage you. Imagine that he tells lies about you to a national audience, lies harmful to your professional or personal future. What could you do to remedy the situation?

You might seek a retraction. Perhaps you would go to colleagues and friends to privately plead your side of the case. Or if you were lucky enough to have a national platform of your own, maybe you would try to correct the defamatory statement in public.

But one thing you couldn’t do is sue. No judicial remedy exists when a federal official defames someone. This gap in the law isn’t a result of a conscious decision by Congress or federal judges to protect the government’s ability to defame you. It was created inadvertently. In an age when the political lie is being weaponized to increasing effect, it’s an oversight Congress should redress.

Today, if a news outlet like The New York Times, CNN or Breitbart News utters a slander, or if a private citizen campaigning for office does so, the courts stand open. Certainly, remedies are not unlimited. Worried about defamation’s chilling effects on the press, the Supreme Court has rightly erected high hurdles to defamation damages.

Read full article

You may also read!

The Secrets of ‘Cognitive Super-Agers’

One of my greatest pleasures during the Covid-19 shutdowns


Is Education No Longer the ‘Great Equalizer’?

There is an ongoing debate over what kind of


Even the terrorist threat to the United States is now partisan

Hours after he announced his objection to forming a


Mobile Sliding Menu