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September 2022

MediaLawLetter September 2022

The MediaLawLetter is the leading professional news source for developments in media law and policy, with reports on decisions and statutory developments.
in this issue

Ken Starr: A Genial Man with a Mixed Legacy

George Freeman

I dealt with Ken on a few occasions, and found him to be a man of many contradictions. Thus, while I am sorry for his passing and feel for his family and friends, I am decidedly undecided about his legacy.


MLRC London Conference 2022

Dave Heller

Keep calm and carry on, Britain’s famous war time slogan, was the playbook for MLRC’s recently concluded London Conference.


Blocked or Not Blocked – That Was the Question

Meenakshi Krishnan and Nathan Siegel

Judge William Bertelsman awarded summary judgment to several media defendants (The New York Times, CBS, ABC, Gannett, and Rolling Stone) in a series of long-running defamation cases brought by Nicholas Sandmann. 


Judge Dismisses Social Media Agent’s Defamation Lawsuit Against The Times

Karen Chesley

A federal judge dismissed a libel claim against The New York Times and its former reporter brought by an agent for social media influencers, finding that most of the allegedly defamatory statements were non-actionable and that the agent failed to sufficiently allege actual malice.


Texas Court Grants CNN’s Motion To Dismiss Doctor’s $100 Million Defamation Suit

Bob Latham and Kate Bolger

“CNN accurately reported what [Dr. Immanuel] had said and the positions that government agencies and others had taken on medication for COVID,” reads the opinion.


Seventh Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Gannett

Brian Spahn

The court held that the allegedly defamatory statements at issue failed to state a defamation claim as the statements were both substantially true and protected under Wisconsin’s true and fair reporting of a judicial proceeding privilege. 


Rabbi’s Use of a Reputation Management Consultant Renders Him a Limited Public Figure

Chelsea Kelly

A Maryland trial court held that a rabbi became a limited public figure by hiring a reputation management consultant to digitally suppress negative content about him online and promote unrelated positive content.


Texas Appeals Court SLAPPs Lawsuit Against Community Newspaper

Samuel Calkins

The term “right wing propaganda” in the context of the article was a constitutionally protected opinion and a statutorily privileged fair comment on a matter of public concern.


Delaware Court Grants Dismissal in ShotSpotter v. VICE Media

Jeremy Chase and Nimra Azmi

After finding that ShotSpotter had failed to state a claim on fair report, opinion, and truth grounds, the Court nevertheless proceeded to hold that ShotSpotter’s 413-page Complaint failed to adequately allege actual malice.


Court SLAPPs Conspiracy Theorist’s $250 Million Suit v. Chicago Sun Times

Damon E. Dunn and Seth A. Stern

The suit demanded $250,000,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, which Judge O’Malley found signified retaliatory intent necessary to establish a SLAPP.

New Jersey State Court Imposes Sanctions Against Counsel for Pursuing Frivolous Defamation Claims

Elizabeth Seidlin-Bernstein

A pair of recent decisions from a New Jersey trial court highlights the state’s strong legal protections for freedom of speech and the press.

Anti-SLAPP Tactical Considerations in New York State Versus Federal Courts

David S. Korzenik

The court had no difficulty concluding the article was a matter of legitimate public concern, a fair report of the prior proceedings, and published without actual malice. The significance of the decision, however, also lies in its approach to the recovery of legal fees under the New York SLAPP statute.

Foreign Emoluments Clause Meets FOIA

Charles D. Tobin and Maxwell S. Mishkin

A D.C. federal judge has issued a groundbreaking Freedom of Information Act ruling in favor of the Washington Post, agreeing that the public has a "strong interest” in learning the names of retired U.S. military personnel who go to work for foreign governments and how much they get paid.

Judge Finds Virginia Obscenity Statute Unconstitutional and Dismisses Attempt to Have Two Books Declared Obscene

Nicole Bergstrom and Molly G. Rothschild

A judge found Virginia’s obscenity law unconstitutional and dismissed Petitions seeking to have two books, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maasand Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, found obscene.


Is Content Moderation a (Perhaps Un-)Necessary Evil, or a First Amendment Good?

Jeff Hermes

A consideration of the role that editorial discretion and content moderation play in the marketplace of ideas.

Ten Questions to a Media Lawyer: Adam Cannon

Adam Cannon

Legal director of The Sun on his work, leisure and karaoke picks.