Today, the L.A. Times laid out my case for me, John Clark vs. Larry King, CNN, TBS, and maybe Time Warner. I bet Larry and CNN’s lawyers aren’t pleased, especially as they also represent the LA Times!
LATimes 1st amend ed.jpg
If you want to read it clearly, click here:
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It has to do with the press publishing news in reliance upon the source of the news being accurate. And if it isn’t, whether they should be held liable.
The case began where a small newspaper in Pennsylvania relied upon the truth of whether a certain councilman’s accusations that the mayor and another city councilman were in fact “liars”, “queers” and “child molesters”, yelled out at a stormy meeting outside council chambers.
They sued the media for damages based upon the fact that the charges weren’t true, and the newspaper’s story repeating them constituted defamation.
The Pennylvania Supreme Court reinstated the libel lawsuit against the reporter, the editor, and the publishing company. The justices cited the famous 1964 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, New York Times vs. Sullivan (see my links to cases at the left).
That case requires plaintiffs to prove “by clear and convincing evidence that a newspaper knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth published a falsehood.”
The case went up to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they were content that the case did not need to be interfered with, and denied review.
The L.A. Times claims that the media exercises the doctrine of “neutral reportage” when it comes to public and prominent figures, and even when reported charges are proved false (i.e. The Reverend Jerry Falwell’s accusation that Clinton was addicted to cocaine), the media has a right to report it anyway, on the basis that citizens are able to sort truth from tale.
Neutral Reportage, as the courts have called it, surely means what it says. And there’s little neutrality in the media these days. They all seem to exercise their editorial POV, to the detriment of one side or the other, depending upon who they favor, and the L.A. Times is probably one of the worst offenders, in my opinion, despite their Pulitzers (or perhaps because of them).
Here in Hollywood, many people will be following the case, as I certainly will be, and as also the media will be around our country (but not the Daily Mail and Evening Standard in England and their agents in the U.S., I’m sure they could care less.)
The case is Troy Publishing Co. v. Norton and Wolfe, 04-979.