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Feb. 3 2010 - 1:25 pm | 1,357 views | 7 recommendations | 43 comments

Obama is obligated to sue Rush Limbaugh for defamation

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh speaks with...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Answering a question about the State of the Union Speech posed to him by Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson during a televised interview, Rush Limbaugh said the following -

I think this is the first time in his life that there’s not a professor around to turn his C into an A or to write the law review article for him he can’t write. He’s totally exposed and there’s nobody to make it better. I think he’s been covered for all his life. The fact that his agenda failed this year is the best thing that could have happened to this country.
Via Think Progress

While this is obviously not the first time Rush has uttered an outrageous statement about the president, this remark takes things to an entirely different place.

It’s one thing to voice political opinions, wish for the president’s failure, etc. It’s an entirely different thing to accuse Obama of plagiarism. Stating that the president had other people write his law review articles is a textbook case of alleging plagiarism and,  absent a basis in truth, a clear cut example of actionable defamation.

Opinion, no matter how colored  or unfair one might find it, is protected by the First Amendment. That’s why Rush has a job. But defamatory statements made with malice are not entitled to these protections.

As an attorney and a writer, I place accusations of plagiarism right up there with allegations of building Nazi death camps or plotting the death of John Lennon. Accordingly, if I were Barack Obama, I would have my private attorney filing a defamation suit against Limbaugh by the time Rush can learn how to spell o-x-y-c-o-n-t-i-n.

In making such a statement, Limbaugh is relying on the law that gives greater latitude in hurling such accusations at elected officials in the name of exercising his First Amendment Rights.

But Rush has this one wrong. The First Amendment protection is not a free pass to say such a thing unless one is prepared to prove the allegation is true.

In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court altered the direction of libel laws in America in a landmark case entitled New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964) .  In its decision, the Court held that, given the importance of protecting the unfettered flow of ideas in the political area, a public official cannot recover damages based on allegations of libel unless the public official can prove actual malice.

The court goes on to define ‘actual malice’ as having knowledge that the statement was false or that the statement was made with reckless disregard as to whether it was false or not.

Unless Limbaugh has a reasonable basis to suggest such a grave offense, he can, indeed, be judged guilty of defaming the president and subject to paying  money damages.

There is, however, an ultimate defense to a charge of defamation.

Truth.

Was Limbaugh telling the truth?

Not according to a fellow student and member of the Harvard Law Review during Obama’s tenure.

Meet Bradford Berenson, an attorney who worked with Obama on the Harvard Law Review. As further proof that we in the legal profession take defamation charges very seriously you might be interested to know that Mr. Berenson isn’t just any old lawyer – he’s a lawyer who served in the Bush White House.

Here’s what Mr. Berenson had to say:

These charges are not accurate (emphasis added.) As a 2L [second year law] student, Barack wrote the same amount as all of his 2L peers, although by policy of the Harvard Law Review, no student writing is signed or attributed to individual authors. As a 3L, it is true that he did not write, but that is because he was the President of the Review. Because the President does so much editing, including of all the major faculty articles, he is not expected to author original pieces himself and almost never does so. I saw Barack hunched over manuscripts editing articles on many a late night at Gannett House. He simply could not have been elected President [of the Law Review]  if he was not regarded by his fellow editors as being among the best legal writers and legal minds in his class.(emphasis added.)

Via Think Progress

I am rarely accused of being naïve when it comes to the reality of politics. It’s a nasty business. But there are times where the opportunity exists to draw a line in the sand in order to say that things are going too far.

This is one such time.

The president has an obligation to go after Limbaugh on this. It’s not about politics. It’s not about scoring points against his opponents. It’s about upholding the importance of the law and setting the boundaries of acceptable behavior in a free society.

This is also not just about the president. If Limbaugh, or anyone else, is permitted to knowingly or recklessly defame those who are either elected officials or seek office, how many candidates in the future will be unfairly and illegally slandered in an effort to skew public opinion in an illegal and vicious way? This is not what the First Amendment is all about. While the right of anyone behind a microphone to voice opinions serves the interest of the American people, flat out lying, either knowingly or recklessly, does precisely the opposite and simply cannot be permitted.

Obviously, it isn’t about the money. It’s about the abuse of free speech. I have no doubt that were Obama to proceed, any money awarded would end up with a charity or maybe used to pay down the national debt. .

This is also not about political sour grapes. On the contrary, this is about a principle every bit as important as other issues the president is taking on and one that serves public officials of either party.

The president has an obligation to pursue this matter in the courts. After all, if  the President of The United States will not stand up for a hugely important principle, who will?


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  1. collapse expand

    Nice idea on the law suit but it won’t happen, but we can dream!

  2. collapse expand

    Hey Rick,

    Glad to hear I’m not alone! He’s said a few things before that could get him in legal trouble, and while I’m not sure this is his most defamatory, it’s just another in a long list – so I agree with you.

    If you’re curious, I actually mentioned it at the end of a post in November [ http://www.kyle-brady.com/2009/11/30/politics-is-not-a-celebrity-contest/ ] and wrote something even before that about how FOX News should be taken down as a whole [ http://www.kyle-brady.com/2009/08/03/in-support-of-suing-fox-news/ ].

    Keep the torch burning!

    –Kyle

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      He Kyle-
      I’m looking into whether there is standing on the part of anyone other than Obama to pursue this against Fox as the publisher of the defamation. It’s tricky. In legal terms, only Obama has been damaged. However, I’m trying to figure out a way where a viewer could argue damages as a result of the defamation. It’s a tough one. It would be easier if Fox were on the public airwaves rather than cable.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        I know a couple of people who listen to this windbag (I can’t be sued for that, can I?)on a regular basis; and it seems like their perception of the happenings in the world are completely skewed from what I perceive to be reality. He is and has been a huge influence on the hatred and division in the country for too long and a lawsuit from the POTUS would be fun to watch. Unfortunately Obama has much bigger whales to fry.

        Also Rick; it may not even be ruled as a legitimate interview………since it was given by Gretchen Carlson.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    As enlightened as litigation may be, I wish President Obama were to say, “once I’m out of office I will be meeting with Mr. Limbaugh with the express intention of kicking his fat ass up and down the street.”

  4. collapse expand

    I do think Rush should be sued (or better yet physically pilloried) but can’t his lawyers make the case that he was conjecturing when he said those defamatory things? Sure, such offhand and outloud guessing might be recklessly misrepresentational of the president, but it seems like the defense provides enough wiggle room to escape the intending-to-cause-malice allegation. Answering for his unthinking statement, Rush can escape censure by basically claiming that – regardless of what records and friends of the president say – he believes in his mind that the president is ‘probably’ a plagiarist. Such a fact might greatly lower the standard and expectations of political punditry, but it clears Rush of making false statements which only indirectly appeared to intend malice.

    Just my thoughts (I’m not a lawyer or law student by the way).

    • collapse expand

      Tim – nope. Conjecture would be if he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if…” or “I don’t know if its true or not but I heard that…”.

      Limbaugh’s statement was stated as a fact. Unless its true or was not made with utter disregard for the truth, it is slander.

      I’m am a lawyer and I would take this case in a heartbeat.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    [re-post, not sure if it went through the first time]

    I do think Rush should be sued (or better yet physically pilloried) but can’t his lawyers make the case that he was conjecturing when he said those defamatory things? Sure, such offhand and outloud guessing might be recklessly misrepresentational of the president, but it seems like the defense provides enough wiggle room to escape the intending-to-cause-malice allegation. Answering for his unthinking statement, Rush can escape censure by basically claiming that – regardless of what records and friends of the president say – he believes in his mind that the president is ‘probably’ a plagiarist. Such a fact might greatly lower the standard and expectations of political punditry, but it clears Rush of making false statements which only indirectly appeared to intend malice.

    Just my thoughts (I’m not a lawyer or law student by the way).

  6. collapse expand

    EDIT

    I do think Rush should be sued (or better yet physically pilloried) but can’t his lawyers make the case that he was conjecturing when he said those defamatory things? Sure, such offhand and out loud guessing might turn out to be recklessly misrepresenting of the president, but it seems like this defense provides enough wiggle room to escape the intending-to-cause-malice allegation. Answering for his unthinking statement, can’t Rush escape censure by basically claiming that – regardless of what documents and friends of the president say – he truly believed when he said those things that the president is ‘probably’ (big word here) guilty of committing plagiarism? Such a fact, if true, might greatly lower the standards and expectations of political punditry, but it clears Rush of making knowingly false statements which only indirectly appeared to intend malice.

    Just my thoughts (I’m not a lawyer or law student by the way).

  7. collapse expand

    ….but then Obama would have to bring all his school records into court….which are all hidden now, just as his birth certificate is…..

    • collapse expand

      andy-
      My, what a terribly clever – if seriously embarrassing comment.

      The issue is whether Obama had others write his law review articles for him. Any article he wrote is readily available as all law review articles are public record given that they are published. That is kind of the point of a law review article.

      With respect to his education records, nobody’s education records are available to the public. Assuming that, somewhere along the way, you went to school, why don’t you have someone you know request those records and see what happens. I assure you that they will not be handed over.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      predictably stupid comment

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      I think I heard several people say publicly throughout Bush’s 8-year term that Dubya was mildly retarded. If Bush had wanted to put an end to all those “stupid” rumors, he could have sued all of his detractors and presented his college transcripts from Yale and Harvard as evidence that he was in fact learned and not slow. Furthermore, he could have had taken time away from his job of running the country to have someone administer an IQ test to him, and the results could have been presented in court to further dispel any rumors of mental dificiency or illiteracy.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Or; is it possible that if he would have done all of these things, the comments would have been proven to be true and he would have lost his case?

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Anything is possible, isn’t it?
          But if you use your head (it won’t hurt too much…I promise), what do you think the odds are that Obama’s fellow students would have elected him as president of the law review if they thought he wasn’t doing his own work? I don’t know how much you know about law students, especially those who make law review (only the very top of the class) but, on this subject, I am an expert. Nobody cuts anybody a break. It is as competitive as it gets…especially at Harvard. If anyone had an inkling that Obama was cheating, they not only would have driven him off the law review, they would have had his head on a plate. And believe me, those of us who have been law students can tell you that we know everything our competitors are doing. And, by the way, reread the part of my post where a REPUBLICAN lawyer who worked in the BUSH White House, confirmed that this was a ridiculous charge. Equally ridiculous is the accusation that a law school professor would alter a grade for a student. I promise you that lawyers all over America, whether for Obama or against him, are getting a hell of a laugh at that one. Hell…law students can’t even get their profs on the phone or to deign to speak to them after class let alone dream of talking them into changing a grade!
          Now, I suppose if the Harvard students and the occassional professor were so incredibly prescient to know that this kid was going to be one of only 44 humans in American history to become president, maybe they wanted to help him along. But if Harvard can do that – I’m heading up to Boston to find out what drugs they are taking because that would be some trick.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  8. collapse expand

    Rick….you have used an old picture when Rush was 80 lbs heavier

  9. collapse expand

    Come on Rick you are asking the President to “swing at a pitch in the dirt” and give Rush Limbaugh, a total idiot and big-time instigator, more “air time” in putting the President on the defense (even though the President would be a plaintiff in the lawsuityou suggest). You need to go back and watch that “American President” movie you like so much, a great movie by the way, and you will see that they cover the subject of swinging at a pitch in the dirt. President Obama has a great intellect and that comes across to almost everyone who watches him for any length of time. By putting the incredibly important issues of our time front and center and addressing them correctly, President Obama will make the ranks of Limbaugh followers skrink considerably. (Now Limbaugh will always have some followers, but there is only so much any of us can do). Your heart is in the right place on this one Rick, but rather than suggesting a defamation suit against Limbaugh by the President, I suggest that you write an entire column (or two or three) where idiot Limbaugh is the one on trial. I promise to back you up in the “comment section” if you decide to do this.

    • collapse expand

      Logic-
      I have to disagree.

      While I would certainly agree that responding to most of the nonsense Limbaugh spews would, indeed, be ’swinging at a ball in the dirt’, this really is different.

      Limbaugh, and everyone else, can voice anything they like as long as it opinion or reasonably attributable. At the very least they can say, “Well, I heard…”

      If you take another look at the movie “American President’, you will note that when the bad guy spews untruths he is very careful to say, “I don’t know if it’s true but I heard…” When he’s challenged he says, “Look, you hear something enough times…”

      There is truly a difference between throwing around the accusations and outright slandering.

      This is not just about Obama. Slander is a big deal. It really is. It doesn’t matter if its done to a president or a guy on the street. It should not be permitted to go unchallenged or it diminishes the true intent of freedom of speech.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    I’m sure you’re right as far as the law goes, but if Obama did as you suggest, he’d look like as big a loser as Steve Poizner. As a lawyer, I’d expect you to disagree, but a big part of the voting public views an appeal to the courts in the same way they would view a kid getting his mommy to stop the other kids from picking on him. When Rush lies, call him on it – as you did. I would imagine you could keep your blog pretty full on that alone.
    But Obama has a whole lot of more important things to spend his time on.

    • collapse expand

      It’s not that I don’t understand what you are saying. I do. But this is something very different. It’s one thing to lie. It’s quite another to slander. I don’t expect that Obama will sue Limbaugh – but he should as there is a much bigger point at issue here.
      As for Poizner – well, he’s just out of his mind! Of course, the ad that Fiorina put up today trashing Tom Campbell is also on the insane side.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  11. collapse expand

    I have a hard time seeing this case going anywhere. Trashing the president is a favored American past time, and when you compare Rush’s statements to some of the things that were lobbed at Clinton or Bush, the courts must realise that they would be opening a HUGE can of worms here.

    You should check out this case. Levesque v Doocy 560 F.3d 82. Yes, that is Doocy, as in Steve Doocy of Fox News, the Steve Doocy that works with Gretchen Carlson on fox and friends. Those bastards commit a lot of defamation. In this case, Doocy ripped a story off of an internet parody site, and used the information to slam a school principle multiple times during his show. The court held that failure to investigate his source is not actual malice.

    203 F.3d 714 Was a case in which a radio host used an annonymous and incorrect internet post to encourage his listeners to harass somebody. Again, no actual malice.

    From these two cases, it appears that all that Rush would have to show to defend himself is something along the lines of “well Orly Taitz said so, and I did not feel the need to investigate further.” While there may be some utility in making him say something like that, he already did. When he was in the NFL controversy, he said he made some of his statements because he new how to work the media. That shows he isn’t exactly supremely interested in truth.

    Anyways, that is just some amature searching I did. I know that they are not SCOTUS cases, and so dont have the authority of Sullivan, but it seems like actual malice might be a difficult standard to meet when ignorance is a defense. If Rush is anything, he is ignorant. But that is just my devil’s advocate. I am not an attorney, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    • collapse expand

      Craig-
      On your points-
      1. I think you’d have a hard time in the case of Clinton and Bush finding situations where they were slandered. Things that were cutting were reported or cited, but not stated as facts by commentators, reporters, etc. They are typically much to smart to do that.

      2. In both the cases you cited, there was a big difference. While neither reporter exercised care in researching the quality of their their source, they nevertheless had a source to reference. Limbaugh cited no such source.

      3. Even if these things have been done before, it just makes the point that slander with malice is the point the law has established that is not to be stepped over in the pursuit of an open and free media. If you think through the dangers of such a policy, you quickly see the severe danger.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I am not entirely sure where I stand on this, and reasonable minds may differ. I am simply playing devils advocate, but I do see some truth to what I am saying. As to your rebuttal:

        1. I think you are absolutely wrong about Clinton and Bush. Clinton took a lot of heat over a number of matters, including Vince Foster. There was a lot of reporting over Primary Colors, but that is another situation. I would have to research, but I am quite certain there were issues. With Bush, the big one in the room is the Rather report on his National Guard service. Certaintly claiming someone falsified their military record is every bit as damaging as claiming the plagairised their college paper.

        2. It was not clear to me (I may be wrong) that the people in either case I pointed to actually cited to their source in their report. After the fact, they said that they relied on the source in their reporting. While Limbaugh might personally make up all of the lies in his fairy tale world, I wouldnt put it past him to rip some annonymous garbage off of the internet and use it if it struck his fancy. All I am saying is that there is a possibility there for a defense.

        3. We are in complete agreement as to the danger. However, in distinguishing between public and private people, the court has pointed out that one of the reasons for the distinction is that the public person can gain access to the media to retort untrue things said about him. Certainly, the President can (and this President has) used his access to the media to call out Fox News for its garbage. I dont really like saying almost anything goes against the President, and it will limit the desire of decent people to want the job, but I just don’t think the court can open the can of worms that would come with adjudicating all of the barbs that are tossed at the president.

        Thanks for your work, I always enjoy it.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          I forgot to mention, but it is important to remember, that Hilary Clinton accused Obama of plagarism on the campagn trail with regard to a speech he gave. Certaintly, Rush could have expanded on these accusations, or relied on websites claiming this was a longtime pattern Obama relied on. Google Obama plagiarism or anything close to that, and you get a lot of sources to base accusations on.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            But do any of them indicate that he had others write his law review articles?

            In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            I did as you asked and googled Obama plagiarism.

            They are all stories about what you referenced regarding Hillary Clinton’s allegations that Obama took from Devol Patrick’s speech.

            All due respect, you’re missing it. Hillary’s allegations were not slanderous because (a) they were in all likelihood true (the ultimate defense to a cause of action for slander or liable and (b) even if it turned out that it was a coincidence, she was not being reckless in making the charge. Refer to the Sullivan rule I write about in the initial post. When someone is a public person, the test is different. The defamatory statement must not only be untrue, but most be made with knowledge it is untrue or a recklessly made. This is not at all the case in the situation you reference.

            While Limbaugh could have, as you note, expanded on this, he did not. His comment had absolutely nothing to do with it. Are you suggesting that Limbaugh could say, “Barack Obama is a pedophile” because someone else once accused Obama of taking elements of another person’s speech without giving them credit?

            In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          1. there was chatter about Vince Foster but I think you would be hard pressed indeed to find an instance where someone went on tv or on radio or published in any other way that said “Bill Clinton killed Vince Foster” or anything similar. Give it a try. I don’t think you’ll find it.

          2. What Dan Rather said about Bush came very close to slander – although not as overt as Limbaugh’s statement about Obama’s law review articles. Dan Rather lost his job over it as did a few producers.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          Also -”Primary Colors” was a novel. We all know it was based on Bill Clinton but at no time did author slander Bill Clinton. He was writing about a fictional character. The fact that the character very much resembled Clinton does not come even close to meeting the legal test of defamation.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            I apologize. Upon further research, I have discovered that I, in fact, am a moron. The argument is not in proving he got some evidence of plagiarism from online.

            Rush will just say that Obama did not write an article for the Law Review and relied on articles written by professors to make up the substance of his publication. (most of law review articles are written by law professors)As your quote indicates, no one in his position would have written those articles.

            As for the professors turning his C into an A, he is resorting to the old racist logic that he uses every time he plays Barack the Magic Negro or criticizes Donovan McNabb. People want a black man to suceed, so they elevate their opinion of him.

            He is merely relying on the ignorance of the people who listen to him. He thinks that because he says something is unusual, his audience will think that is true. Rush listeners are probably not law review types.

            The fatal question to the plagiarism argument is this: If Rush was accusing Obama of having someone else write his law review articles, which law review article did he have them write? He apparently wrote a note, but no articles. Therefore, Rush is not saying that Obama claimed credit for the writing of someone else, he is claiming that someone else had the onerous task of being published in the Harvard Law Review because Obama was too damn lazy or incompetant to write an article himself.

            Sorry to waste your time and monopolize the comments on your blog. I will shut up now.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  12. collapse expand

    Craig
    I wouldn’t get carried away beating yourself up!

    But, your argument still doesn’t work.

    While professors do contribute articles to the law journals, it is not true that they write all the articles. Students are very much the heart of law review.

    Once a law student makes law review, they are expected to contribute an adequate number of pieces. In Obama’s case, as a second year law student, he would have written articles like everyone else. As he was elected president of the review in his third year, he would have then spent his time on editing. However, anyone else who was not an editor would be writing.

    so, no. Rush cannot use this explanation for his slander. It would be very, very hard for him to craft a defense in this particular situation.

    What is most remarkable, now that a few days have passed, is that most people either didn’t take notice of this, because we now accept slander in the public discourse, or those who commented have said that this is business as usual and Obama would be harmed by ’swinging at a pitch in the dirt.”

    We have become so desensitized to this type of attack that we no longer think it matters.

  13. collapse expand

    Rick, issues like slander and defamation do matter. But like it or not, a politician has to make decisions about what issues to put front and center. The public is, and rightly so, currently focusing on “bread and butter issues.” Right now one of those issues is the fact that Wall Street has cost so many people their jobs, and the public wants to know what the current administration is going to do about is, and they want to be reassured that it won’t happen again. But you are so resigned to the fact that Democrats should just accept the fact thay will have to take losses in the mid-term elections, because that is what usually happens, that you can’t muster up enough “righteous indignation” to tell President Obama what he really needs to hear. What he really needs to hear right now is that he should go after Wall Street with a “ruthless abandon.” Breaking up the big banks is the right thing to do and it is a winning political strategy. Unfortunately, you would rather spend most of your time whining about how the general public is too stupid to understand the issues at hand rather than telling President Obama and the Democrats in Congress what they need to hear.

    • collapse expand

      Well, I certainly appreciate your telling me what I think about the Democrats chances in the mid-terms. Near as I can tell, I haven’t even written on this topic, so I congratulate you on your ability to suss out my opinion from thin air. That’s quite a talent.
      I might add that, in the interest of the big picture, one day’s post does not a philosophy form. I mean, it’s just what I chose to write about on that one day.
      A little perspective might not be such a bad thing as you focus on what I am, apparently, doing and thinking.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Rick, no you have not written an entire column on the Democrats chances with repsect to the mid-term elections, but I think it was one of your comments on one of Bill Dupray’s columns(and I am now in the process of looking it up) that really told me all I need to know about you on this issue.

        Whatever the case may be on the foregoing, you shoud understand the fact that you just happen to be in the right place and at the right time, and studied up on the right issue, that issue being health care, that the current President of the United States might actually be interested in what you say on the subject. My hunch is that President Obama actually reads your posts just like he reads the New York Times and the Washington Post. Don’t waste this unique opoortunity to influence national politics by spending too much time on totally stupid stuff like Rush Limbaugh.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  14. collapse expand

    Let me point out that, if this is defamation, that also defamed, are those accused of grading irregularities and writing the articles for him —

    “a professor around to turn his C into an A or to write the law review article for him he can’t write.”

    – and those so incompetent that they failed to catch plagiarism (so blatant that even an untrained radio talk show host can find them).

    SOOOOOOOO…. if I were one of those professors, I’d be pissed! Might even sue.

    Not suggesting anyone make a point of contacting them and planting such ideas, of course. ;-)

  15. collapse expand

    This topic — the pres should sue Limbaugh — has been bothering me no end, leaving me feeling ambivalent and anxious. Isn’t Mr Limbaugh an entertainer as well as a commentator (whatever that really is)? If he were to be silenced, wouldn’t any opinion be vulnerable to silencing as well? No, I don’t really want to silence Limbaugh. I just want people to stop believing what he says … .

    • collapse expand

      Rocky-
      You’re missing it. If Limbaugh had given his opinion, no matter how outrageous, then he would be completely and well within his rights. I may not like his opinions but I completely defend his right to have them.

      This is not about an opinion. He did not offer his opinion that Obama had others write his papers for him – he said it as a statement of fact. There is a huge, huge difference. Had he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me that Obama got someone to write his law review papers for him.’ he would be just fine. But when he says it as something that happened…not as an opinion…it is pure, out and out slander UNLESS it is true.

      That is the point. As for his being an entertainer, this entitles him to no more or no less legal protections than the rest of us.

      By way of example, if I were (and this only as an example) to say right here that “joe baloney is a pedophile”..then I would be slandering old Joe. If I’m going to say something so awful, I sure better know what I’m taking about before I throw that allegation around. Now, if I said, “That Hoe Balony is such an awful guy, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if someone told me that he’s a pedophile.” That would be a nasty thing to say, but it would not be actionable. In the first instance, I’m stating it as a fact. In the second I am not.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I believe I understand, Rick. Though I agree my above remark did not establish that. You are saying that Limbaugh’s assertion is presented as unequivocal truth, when it is in fact a lie, probably a malicious one meant (likely planned) to cause harm. And that’s against the law. Fine. But I’ve been persuaded to believe that it is within the will and the ability of the people to recognize his lies and discard them. That they do not choose to for whatever reason — ideology or racial hatred or yay-team or lead poisoning — is the problem, not Limbaugh. (Does that make me an anarchist?)

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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    About Me

    I am an attorney in Southern California, and a frequent writer, speaker and consultant on health care policy and politics. To that end, I am active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Based in beautiful Santa Monica, California, I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to be a contributing editor to True/Slant. I've recently finished a book designed to make the health care debate understandable to the average reader, and expect it to be out in the next five months or earlier. In my 'spare time', I continue to write for television and, occasionally, for comic books.

    My checkered past includes stints in creative writing and production for television where I did strange things like founding the long running show "Access Hollywood" and serving, for many years, as the president of the Marvel Character Group where I had the distinct pleasure of being one of Spider-man's bosses.

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    Followers: 333
    Contributor Since: February 2009
    Location:Santa Monica,CA

    What I'm Up To

    Media inquiries:

    Melissa Van Fleet

    Ken Lindner & Associates, Inc.
    2029 Century Park East, Suite 1000
    Los Angeles, California 90067

    310-277-9223