Thursday :: Mar 31, 2005

The Supreme Court Hands Democrats A Big Club To Use Against The Right Wing Media


by Steve

In a Supreme Court decision that got little notice earlier this week, the court refused to hear an appeal of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision filed by a newspaper wherein the state court found that newspapers don’t maintain immunity from libel if they report false and defamatory charges made against a candidate. By refusing to hear the case, observers now believe that the United States Supreme Court has now tossed out the neutral reporting privilege that the media has enjoyed in its reporting of what public officials say about competitors.

Why is this a big deal? Because our sensationalistic and right wing media takes lies and falsehoods about Democrats and repeats them over and over again until voters assume such lies are true. Any Supreme Court case that removes the neutral reporting protection enjoyed by Fox News or the Washington Times in reporting the lies told by Republicans or their front groups will now subject the right wing media to libel charges from Democrats. It can level the playing field and neuter the Mighty Wurlitzer in a hurry.

And what example did the news media offer of a story that wouldn’t get coverage if this neutral reporting privilege were removed and news outlets were now accountable for reporting false and defamatory information about a candidate, which was dismissed outright by the Republican Supremes?

In their appeal to the high court, lawyers for the paper said news organizations should be allowed to report what public figures say, regardless of whether it is true or false.

Otherwise, they said, for example, the press could not have reported last year on the charges lodged against Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth because Kerry's supporters said their charges were false.

But noted Philadelphia lawyer Richard Sprague, who represented the mayor and the councilman, said the high court should not "grant a license to knowingly publish defamatory falsehoods." In the end, the Supreme Court dismissed the case of Troy Publishing vs. Norton without comment.

Precisely.

There you go. Senator Kerry, if you really think that the Swifties and the right wing media lied about you and your military record last year, then it is now time, with the help of the Supremes, to make an example of the right wing media. Pick on the media bastions of this right wing smear machine, namely Fox News, the New York Post and other Murdoch tabloids, and the Washington Times for starters, and slap monstrous libel suits on them for blasting from the rooftops every smear made by the Swifties. If the media sees that it is toxic and costly to report every lie and smear made by GOP outfits like the Swifties even after the candidate refutes the charges, it will send a chilling message of our own to the media and dry up coverage of these GOP liars once and for all.

And Senator, if you want to run again in 2008 and want people to know once and for all that you were smeared last year unfairly, then you better take this handout from the Supremes. Because if you don’t sue the right wing media for libel, now that the Supremes say that you can, then it will be fair for your critics to conclude that there was a reason why you didn’t. And that reason doesn’t include not wanting to swing at every pitch in the dirt and not wanting to give airtime to falsehoods. Lies are lies Senator, and if you really are the street fighter you claimed to be, then put some fear into your critics between now and 2008.

Steve :: 8:00 PM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!