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June 2023

MediaLawLetter June 2023

in this issue

Daniel Ellsberg: A Personal Remembrance of an American Hero

George Freeman

Though in our volatile and combative times, many journalists – and their sources – are exceptionally courageous, and often sacrifice their well-being for their profession and causes, Ellsberg was the unequaled model for such behavior.

Ten Questions to a Media Lawyer

Tom Hentoff

Williams & Connolly attorney on growing up with two renowned journalist parents, breaking into the business, email etiquette and much more.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Fights Prior Restraint on Publication of Murder Defendant’s Mental Health Report

Jean Maneke

Joseph E. Martineau, attorney with Lewis Rice LLC who is defending the Post-Dispatch, argued that there is a long history of courts rejecting any effort to restrain publication under such circumstances, given that the pleading was lawfully obtained by the reporter in its quick response to the Court.


Pennsylvania Judge Called “QAnon-Linked” Loses False Light Lawsuit Against The Daily Beast

Seth Berlin, Kaitlin Gurney and Leslie Minora

The Court dismissed the Complaint on actual malice pleading grounds, finding that Judge Patrick had failed to allege facts that, if proven, would constitute clear and convincing evidence “that Defendants acted with actual malice when they described her as a QAnon-linked judge.”


Music Producer Is a Public Figure in High Profile Case Against Pop Star

Benjamin E. Marks and Krystel Delauney

The Court held that Gottwald is a limited-purpose public figure and must show by clear and convincing evidence that Sebert acted with actual malice when she accused him of sexual assault. It also granted summary judgment to Sebert with respect to five of the allegedly defamatory statements on the ground that they fell squarely within the absolute litigation privilege but denied summary judgment as to 20 other statements.


Second Time Around, Florida Trial Court Applies Anti-SLAPP Statute to DJ’s Defamation Claims

Minch Minchin

A Florida trial judge dismissed a Tampa disc-jockey’s SLAPP suit against a local radio station and rival DJ because the defamation count was based on nonactionable statements, and the additional claims were barred by Florida’s single-action rule.

How AI “Hallucinations” Could Inflict Real-World Pain for Users

Lyndsey M. Wajert

In filing a complaint many have dubbed “the first of its kind,” a radio host in Georgia recently sued for defamation the company behind the much-buzzed-about artificial intelligence chat platform ChatGPT. And while the concept of suing an AI developer for an intent-based tort may be quite novel, the facts at issue highlight some familiar potential hazards for users of emerging technologies.

Counterman v. Colorado: Good News for Sullivan Fans

Jeff Hermes

The Court says explicitly that whether a statement is a threat does not depend on the intent of the speaker but upon the message received by the listener. However, scienter amounting to subjective recklessness is required in order to avoid chilling effects on other speech.