Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Protected defamation and false accusations

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Very interesting post by John Dean on the defamation industry. It begins:

Jerome Corsi is a right-wing hatchet-man, a very nasty fellow who makes his living hurling false claims and charges at public figures. Corsi gets away with it only because he can hide behind a body of law that protects lies and insults on the assumption that they will be corrected in the marketplace of public debate. This faux-scholar thrives on striking out at those who do not view the world as he does, employing wacky or belittling appellations to bolster his authoritarian conservative views. Thus, Hillary Clinton is a “fat hog“; John Kerry is a “communist”; Arabs are “boy-humping,” “women-hating” “towel heads”; and on and on he goes — a guy who sees conspiracies and evil where others do not.

Corsi first gained wide public attention when he co-authored the 2004 work “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry” that launched the fatal attacks on the Democrats’ last presidential candidate. Now, Corsi’s new book attacking Barack Obama has returned him to public attention once again. When blogger Digby addressed Corsi’s latest trash-for-cash book — “Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality” – she, like most observers, had few kind words for his offensive tome. Indeed, Corsi has been roundly and widely criticized by both the right and the left for his latest spate of viciousness.

There is considerable wonderment at how Corsi gets away with it. For example, people posting comments on Digby’s blog wanted to know : “Why don’t the victims of this kind of sliming sue? . . . I’m not sure that hitting back hard in the courts would be so bad in the court of public opinion, and a multi-million dollar verdict might make the major publishing houses think twice.” Similarly, comments on Amazon regarding Corsi’s handiwork expressed surprise that Corsi had not been sued, with many who posted assuming that because Obama has not sued, there must be some truth to the Corsi’s claims. (Many reached the same conclusion when Kerry did not sue Corsi in 2004 regarding “Unfit For Command.”) However, the real reason Kerry did not sue, and the reason Obama is not suing now, is doubtless related to American law – not any supposed accuracy of Corsi’s scurrilous claims.

American Defamation Law Is a Mess: It Protects Liars and Discourages Public Persons from Suing

There is widespread misunderstanding about American defamation law – even among many attorneys – and for good reason: It is a mess. This body of law initially developed, state by state, from the common law of England. Then, in 1964, it was federalized with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan. Now, the American law of defamation includes both the law of the 50 states (which varies from state to state) as well as federal law (which differs from one federal circuit to another).

This much is clear, however: …

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Written by Leisureguy

22 August 2008 at 12:06 pm

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