False news is a product of big business. False news is used to keep doubt in our minds about things. Democratic leaning media publish false news. Republican leaning media publish false news.
Now the courts have begun to rule to some degree that defamation can occur when the news media plant false stories. While this won’t end false news, it will make it financially hazardous to write stories smearing people.
According to EcoWatch.com,
“Leading climate scientist Michael Mann will see his defamation lawsuit against writers who called him the “Jerry Sandusky of climate science,” among other accusations, move forward thanks to an appeals court ruling on Thursday.
Mann is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and is well-known for his iconic “hockey stick” graph of modern global temperature rise.
He is routinely criticized and even threatened for his research linking climate change to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel for the DC Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s refusal to dismiss the suit and unanimously ruled that a “reasonable jury” would have “sufficient evidence” that the authors and the entities they worked for published false and defamatory claims about Mann and his work “with actual malice.”
“Tarnishing the personal integrity and reputation of a scientist important to one side may be a tactic to gain advantage in a no-holds-barred debate over global warming,” Senior Judge Vanessa Ruiz wrote in the court’s opinion.
Rand Simberg wrote a 2012 blog post for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, comparing Mann to the Penn State football coach accused of molestation.
“Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in service of politicized science that could have dire consequences for the nation and planet,” Simberg wrote. The institute later removed that part, calling it “inappropriate.”
In his own post for the National Review, Mark Steyn cited Simberg’s article and added that he “has a point” and called Mann’s hockey stick graph “fraudulent.”
Simberg and Steyn argued that their comments were protected as free speech under the First Amendment, The Hill reported.
But in the ruling, the court said that while statements made during a “no-holds-barred debate over global warming” are protected under the First Amendment, “if the statements assert or imply false facts that defame the individual, they do not find shelter under the First Amendment simply because they are embedded in a larger policy debate.”