1996 Law Offers Legal Remedy To The Problem Of Fake News

James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal

The U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper issued an apology to First Lady Melania Trump this morning for publishing allegations that she “provided services beyond simply modeling” in the 1990s and that she and President Trump may have given a misleading account of their first meeting. “We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them. We apologise to Mrs Trump for any distress that our publication caused her,” writes the Mail. The Journal reports that a “person familiar with the settlement said the newspaper agreed to pay the first lady $2.9 million in damages and legal costs.”

Speaking of consequences for publishing fake news, Rolling Stone has reached a settlement in the defamation case brought by former University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo over the magazine’s bogus 2014 rape story.

Rolling Stone’s false report was a sort of textbook case of shoddy journalism. As for Mrs. Trump, she benefited from her ability to bring suit not just in the U.S. but also in the U.K., where libel laws are much tougher on publishers. But without rewriting U.S. libel law or limiting any of our basic First Amendment rights here in the U.S., the federal judiciary can create a powerful incentive for publishers not to traffic in fake news.

All judges have to do is start interpreting a 1996 law as it was written, not as they would like it to be. There is no need for Congress to change any laws, and the politicians would likely inflict enormous damage to the U.S. economy and to U.S. consumers if they tried. But there is a legal remedy to fake news, and it will lead to better journalism than the reforms being marketed by Silicon Valley.

Ostensibly in an effort to combat fake news, companies like Facebook and Google have lately allied with various liberal media outfits purporting to be disinterested fact checkers. The predictable result will be a concerted effort to block conservative sites and a less aggressive effort against those on the left. And fake news will likely continue to thrive. Not that any of us wants to live in a society where fake news has been completely eradicated, given the regulation of speech that would be required to achieve such a goal. The founders were often infuriated by fake news but they also understood that a free society comes with a price.

But if we want free speech and also redress when publishers spread information they know to be false or without any care as to its veracity, the answer is to apply the incentives for good behavior that already exist in statutory law. The problem is current judicial interpretations of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Read full article

You May Also Like:

On Social Media, What's Genius For Obama Is Scandal When It Comes To Trump [Watch] Ben Shapiro, The Hill

The Problem Is Facebook, Not Cambridge Analytica Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg

The Sad Hysteria Of The Southern Poverty Law Center Shikha Dalmia, The Week

‘Armed School Resource Officer’ Took Down Maryland High School Shooter Christian Datoc, Daily Caller

What Went Wrong At The FBI Thomas J. Baker, The Wall Street Journal

Nafta Is A Critical Part Of The U.S.’s Economic Future Dan K. Eberhart, Investor’s Business Daily

Hillary Should Just Admit She Hates Half Of America Katherine Timpf, National Review

Democrats’ Obstructionism Is Unprecedented John Hinderaker, PowerLine Blog

Collapse Of Credibility In Mainstream Press Puts Burden On Readers Ira Stoll, New York Sun

At $21 TRILLION, The National Debt Is Growing 36% Faster Than The US Economy Simon Black, Sovereign Man

Two Million Get Off Food Stamps During Trump's First Year Tom Knighton, PJ Media

RNC Raises $12.8 Million In February, Breaks Another Fundraising Record Jack Heretik, Washington Free Beacon

What Could Go Wrong With Obama-era Appointees Putting All Our National Security Eggs In Amazon's Basket? Jared Whitley, Weekly Standard

Alert: Dems Just Got 5 Congressional Seats Courtesy Of The SCOTUS Kevin Daley, Conservative Tribune

The Truth About Medicaid Work Requirements Angela Rachidi, American Enterprise Institute

Millennials Aren’t Saving Because They Think Capitalism Will Be Finished By The Time They Reach 65 Matt Vespa, Townhall

Homeschooling: The Best Hope For America's Future Lloyd Marcus, American Thinker

For More go to the Home Page >>>

Join Our Email List



FreeMarket Central

Some titles recent, all recommended -

Special Video Feature

FreeMarket Central

Voices From The 2017 International Students For Liberty Conference


In Search Of History

The Reagan Tax Cuts Worked

Thanks to "bracket creep," the inflation of the 1970s pushed millions of taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising. To help offset this tax increase and also to improve incentives to work, save, and invest, President Reagan proposed sweeping tax rate reductions during the 1980s. What happened? Total tax revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s, and the results are even more impressive when looking at what happened to personal income tax revenues. Once the economy received an unambiguous tax cut in January 1983, income tax revenues climbed dramatically, increasing by more than 54 percent by 1989 (28 percent after adjusting for inflation).


-- Daniel J. Mitchell,

Shadow Stats Snapshot

FreeMarket Central

ShadowStats alternate economic indicators are based on the methodology of noted economist John Williams, specialist in government economic reporting.

  • Unemployment:
    FreeMarket Central BLS: 4.14%
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 21.8%
  • Inflation:
    FreeMarket Central February Year-to-Year: 1.8% (CPI-U*)
    FreeMarket Central Shadow Stats: 9.9%

*[cpi-u is the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation rate for all urban consumers]