New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true.
The case began in 1960 after The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters.However, the ad had several factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. In response, Montgomery police commissioner L. B. Sullivan sued the Times in the local county court for defamation. The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages. The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari.
In March 1964, the Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision holding that the Alabama court's verdict violated the First Amendment. The decision defended free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. Before this decision, there were nearly $300 million in libel actions from the southern states outstanding against news organizations, as part of a focused effort by southern officials to use defamation lawsuits as a means of preventing critical coverage of civil rights issues in out-of-state publications. The Supreme Court's decision, and its adoption of the actual malice standard, reduced the financial exposure from potential defamation claims, and thus frustrated the efforts of public officials to use these claims to suppress political criticism.
The Supreme Court has since extended the decision's higher legal standard for defamation to all "public figures", beginning with the 1967 case Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts. Because of the high burden of proof required and the difficulty of proving a defendant's real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States. (Bold mine).
By the way, lest you think we are being shoddy in our characterization of Lorenz as "privileged", just consider this information found on her Wiki page, dripping with signals attesting to her socially prominent background and connections to establishment/neoliberal media, probably explanatory of her hypersensitive ego:
Taylor Lorenz is an American culture and technology reporter for The New York Times Styles section, covering topics related to internet culture. In 2020, Fortune magazine included her in their 40 Under 40 listing and Adweek included her on their "2020 Young Influentials Who Are Shaping Media, Marketing and Tech" list. She was a 2019 Knight Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and is an affiliate at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Lorenz was born in New York City[a] Lorenz grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and attended a Swiss boarding school. She attended college at the University of Colorado Boulder, before transferring to Hobart and William Smith College, where she graduated with a BA in Political Science. Lorenz has stated that social media site Tumblr, where she maintained a blog in her early 20s, caused her to become interested in internet culture. —PG
As social media empowers uncredentialed people to be heard, society's most powerful actors seek to cast themselves as victims and delegitimize all critiques.
The most powerful and influential newspaper in the U.S., arguably the West, is The New York Times. Journalists who write for it, especially those whose work is featured on its front page or in its op-ed section, wield immense power to shape public discourse, influence thought, set the political agenda for the planet’s most powerful nation, expose injustices, or ruin the lives of public figures and private citizens alike. That is an enormous amount of power in the hands of one media institution and its employees. That’s why it calls itself the Paper of Record.
One of the Paper of Record’s star reporters, Taylor Lorenz, has been much discussed of late. That is so for three reasons. The first is that the thirty-six-year-old tech and culture reporter has helped innovate a new kind of reportorial beat that seems to have a couple of purposes. She publishes articles exploring in great detail the online culture of teenagers and very young adults, which, as a father of two young Tik-Tok-using children, I have found occasionally and mildly interesting. She also seeks to catch famous and non-famous people alike using bad words or being in close digital proximity to bad people so that she can alert the rest of the world to these important findings. It is natural that journalists who pioneer a new form of reporting this way are going to be discussed.
The second reason Lorenz is the topic of recent discussion is that she has been repeatedly caught fabricating claims about influential people, and attempting to ruin the reputations and lives of decidedly non-famous people. In the last six weeks alone, she twice publicly lied about Netscape founder Marc Andreessen: once claiming he used the word “retarded” in a Clubhouse room in which she was lurking (he had not) and then accusing him of plotting with a white nationalist in a different Clubhouse room to attack her (he, in fact, had said nothing).
^5000The mainstream imperialist media lie CONSTANTLY. Literally 24/7. And it's getting worse.
All of them do it: radio, tv, the newspapers, the movies. The internet. No exceptions.
The corporate Big Lie is pervasive and totalitarian. CBS does it. NBC does it. ABC does it.
CNN does it. FOX does it. NPR does it. And of course the NYTimes and WaPo do it.
Thousands of "diverse" voices telling you the same lies. Enough to convince anyone.
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