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Defamation Suits Should Show Some Conservative Talking Heads Danger of Fake News

by Todd A. Smith

 

 

Fake News or Real News


Thanks to believing idiotic conspiracy theories, some darlings of conservative media and conservative political figures will soon learn a costly lesson about the dangers of disseminating fake news.


Smartmatic has filed defamation lawsuits against two Fox News Channel hosts (Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro), former Fox News Channel host Lou Dobbs and others claiming that the fake news that they reported about a stolen presidential election has ruined their business reputation.


Additionally, Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, lawyers who represented former President Donald Trump in his attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election with baseless claims of voter fraud.


USA Today reported, “A voting technology company is suing Fox News, three of its hosts and two former lawyers for former President Donald Trump—Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell—for $2.7 billion, charging that the defendants conspired to spread false claims that the company helped ‘steal’ the U.S. presidential election…


“Unlike Dominion, whose technology was used in 24 states, Smartmatic’s participation in the 2020 election was restricted to Los Angeles County, which votes heavily Democratic.


“Smartmatic’s limited role notwithstanding, Fox aired at least 13 reports falsely stating or implying the company had stolen the 2020 vote in cahoots with Venezuela’s socialist government, according to the complaint. This alleged ‘disinformation campaign’ continued even after then-Attorney General William Barr said the Department of Justice could find no evidence of widespread voter fraud.”


To me, the fact that so-called journalists continued reporting claims of wide spread voter fraud, even after the Justice Department found no evidence of such fraud, epitomizes the term fake news.


However, because people in such-high places have used the term when negative stories come out about them, many people probably do not remember the definitions of fake and real.


But how do you define fake news?


I have heard people say that fake news is information that contains bias.


On the other hand, some have slammed all opinionated media personalities as the purveyors of fake news.


However, the two descriptions could not be farther from the truth.


It is one thing to express an opinion, especially when you have facts to back up why you feel a certain way.


Furthermore, advocacy journalism has its place as well because mainstream media cannot report on all issues important to all demographics.


But even if a person fits the description of an activist journalist or an opinion columnist, the same rules of truth and fairness should exist in their reporting.


As a journalist that likes to focus on African-American issues, especially those that impact African-American males, I would fall into the category of advocacy journalism.


But even if I write an opinion piece on how mass incarceration adversely affects African-American males, I cannot just say that the prison system is racist and leave it at that.


I have to say the prison system is racist and then back it up with facts that show how people of color get treated worse than their White counterparts in United States prisons.


While some might not agree with the position and might hit me with other facts, my opinion needs to be backed up with facts.


I cannot just simply say something without evidence and call it fair and balanced journalism as Fox News Channel often labels itself.


During former President Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, in essence overthrow our republic in favor of a dictatorship, many conservative talking heads like Tucker Carlson (although not named in lawsuits) said stupid thing as if they were facts, although evidence proved that he was lying.


When confronted with his lies, Carlson said his audience does not take him seriously.


I beg to differ because some in conservative media circles are just as much to blame as Trump for the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection that attempted to destroy American democracy.


Unfortunately, there are some people that gravitate towards conservative media, believing that anything a media personality says on Fox News, Newsmax, OAN or other conservative outlet is gospel no matter how much evidence exists that proves that they are the purveyors of fake news.


Those who believe that the liberal, “lame stream” media as some call it are the only ones disseminating fake news have unfortunately been brainwashed by conservative politicians who fear that the truth will expose their lies and corruption.


When the Smartmatic lawsuit hit the news cycle, many conservatives complained that CNN personalities like Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo give their opinions on a nightly basis.


However, there is a difference between expressing one’s opinion, with facts to back it up, as opposed to outright lying when you know the evidence tells you that you are lying.


Expressing an opinion is not fake news simply because you disagree or because some politicians do not like it.


On the contrary, fake news is reporting news that you know is not true from the beginning, but you do it anyway as to not upset a wannabe dictator or your gullible and uninformed audience.


In a defamation lawsuit, a falsehood has to cause damage to a person or business’ reputation.


If the truth ruins someone’s reputation, that is not defamation but more like chickens coming home to roost.


Furthermore, in order for a public figure to prove that someone defamed them, they have to prove malice.


On the other hand, if a private person wants to prove defamation, they only have to prove negligence.


Say that Dominion and Smartmatic are considered public figures, or even limited public figures (public figures for only a short time), the fact that Barr and the Justice Department said that widespread voter fraud did not occur might be enough to prove malice.


And the fact that many now do not trust Dominion and Smartmatic might cause them to lose billions of dollars, permanently damaging their reputation.


Some media personalities knew the truth and knew about the consequences and repercussions of reporting fake news, but they still chose to do it anyway.


Well, maybe the billionaire that popularized the term fake news can give them some real billions because they will need it since they chose to believe the conspiracy theories of a deranged former president and not the truth staring them in their faces.

This article was published on Friday 12 February, 2021.
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