Category Archives: Defamation

Defamation in the Era of Fake News

When I was a kid there were three major television networks and a relatively limited number of print publications. A great deal of capital was needed to become one of the few voices in mass media.

Now, in the Internet era, anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can be a publisher. This has democratized media, for better or for worse. The better part – lower barriers to entry for speakers – has been offset by, shall we say, degraded standards for accuracy and journalistic integrity. Witness the current dialogue over “fake news.”

With the proliferation of speakers has come a proliferation of people claiming that they have been defamed. read more

Anti-SLAPP Motions: a Powerful Tool for Media Defendants

Actor Frank Sivero sued Fox over his claim that “The Simpsons” character “Louie” was based upon Sivero’s character Frankie Carbone in “Goodfellas.” Sivero’s case was thrown out of court by a California state judge. (See “Fox Gets $250M ‘Simpsons’ Lawsuit From ‘Goodfellas’ Actor Tossed.”) No jury heard his claim. Nor was he defeated by a motion for summary judgment, a traditional pretrial motion to dismiss a claim that should be rejected if there is any triable dispute of fact for a jury to resolve. Instead, Sivero’s claim was dismissed pursuant to an “anti-SLAPP” motion, a powerful procedural device that was originally intended to benefit public interest groups, but has become the courtroom weapon of choice for media companies. read more

2 Chainz Likely to Beat Defamation Rap: Defamation Actions can be Problematic

Rapper 2 Chainz was sued in North Carolina court by Christine Chisholm, a woman who claimed she was referred to as a “THOT” (“that ho’ over there”) in a video, posted on YouTube, in which she appeared backstage after a 2 Chainz concert. (See “2 Chainz Sued for Five Million Over ‘THOT’ Video.”) In the video, 2 Chainz asks his rap colleague “Cap 1” “Is this your THOT?” while Ms. Chisholm is waiting in another room, apparently having been invited backstage. She is then invited to approach 2 Chainz, speaks with him for about a minute, at one moment directly speaks into the video camera, and is then asked to leave.   read more