Showing posts with label #DefamationLawsuit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #DefamationLawsuit. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2023

The Tucker Carlson Saga: A Shocking Departure and a Controversial Career.

Tucker Carlson, 2022.
© 2022 Gage Skidmore
In a surprising move, Fox News has parted ways with Tucker Carlson, its most popular prime time host, resulting in a major shift in the cable news landscape and sending shockwaves through the conservative movement. This announcement comes less than a week after the network agreed to pay $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit, where Carlson's show played a significant role in spreading misinformation following the 2020 election.

The New York Times has previously reported on Tucker Carlson's multifaceted career, beginning with a challenging early life marked by his mother's abandonment of the family. As a journalist and television personality, he initially held more libertarian views, being critical of anti-immigration groups. However, his perspectives changed over time, particularly after the September 11th attacks, as he adopted increasingly anti-immigration and anti-diversity stances.

Carlson's rise as a key figure in the populist movement around Donald Trump was facilitated by his adoption of white nationalist rhetoric. This development coincided with Fox News' shift in programming strategy to cater to its core audience of older white conservatives, amplifying white fear and resentment.

The conservative commentator's career also included the founding of The Daily Caller, a right-leaning digital tabloid. While the publication achieved success, it attracted controversy due to connections between some writers and white nationalist groups. Despite early setbacks in his television career, Carlson's support for Donald Trump and controversial views eventually led to his own Fox News show.

With Tucker Carlson's departure from Fox News, the future of the cable news landscape remains uncertain. As an influential figure in both television and politics, his impact on the conservative movement will undoubtedly continue to be felt for years to come.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Fox News' Settlement and Future Defamation Suits.

Justice William J. Brennan, 1972. 
(Author of opinion in New York Times v. Sullivan.)
Library of Congress, Public Domain.

The Economist today reports on the recently settled defamation lawsuit between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5m over Fox's coverage of the 2020 US election. Dominion accused the network of knowingly spreading lies about its voting machines, resulting in Joe Biden's victory. The lawsuit revealed the extent to which Fox's coverage is shaped by a desire to tell its audience what it wants to hear and by its competition. The case also shed light on the network's tumultuous relationship with former President Donald Trump.

Fox's audience declined after the 2020 election, as Trump urged his supporters to switch to other networks. The network then sought to appease Trump's supporters, giving credibility to false claims made by his lawyers. Fox tried to shift its audience's focus to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but viewers ultimately did not follow this lead. The network continued to defend Trump during various legal troubles, as its influence on viewers appeared limited.

Despite the significant financial settlement, the lawsuit's impact on Fox News is, in the opinion of the Economist, negligible. The network can afford the payout, which is about a quarter of its estimated revenue last year, and it will not have to air retractions or corrections. As the lawsuit did not receive extensive coverage on Fox, viewers who learned about it elsewhere were likely to take the network's side. Another voting technology company, Smartmatic, is suing Fox for $2.7bn over its 2020 election coverage, which may draw more attention to the problem.

I think the article misses an important potential consequence of this case. The article highlights the network's influence on the American right, but fails to address the broader implications for libel law jurisprudence. Despite Fox News' potentially defensible behavior under  New York Times v. Sullivan, which protects news organizations from defamation suits unless they knowingly published false information or exhibited "reckless disregard" for the truth, the article does not discuss how the case could affect future defamation suits.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have questioned the basis of New York Times v. Sullivan, and the Fox News case may impact the Supreme Court's willingness to maintain such a powerful shield for the press. The network's repeated dissemination of misinformation, deception, and conspiracy theories could prompt the Court to reevaluate the limits of defamation protections for news organizations.

Overall, the article provides a detailed account of the Dominion lawsuit, Fox News' influence on conservative politics, and the network's relationship with former President Donald Trump. However, it would have been valuable for the piece to discuss the potential consequences of the case for future libel law jurisprudence and the role of the Supreme Court in shaping these outcomes.