Fla. Bill Aims to Limit Media Defamation Protections
Weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accused legacy news outlets of increasingly favoring 'preferred narratives' over truth, GOP state Rep. Alex Andrade has introduced a bill that would make it easier to successfully sue news media for defamation....
- Weeks after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accused legacy news outlets of increasingly favoring 'preferred narratives' over truth, GOP state Rep. Alex Andrade has introduced a bill that would make it easier to successfully sue news media for defamation.1
- Florida House Bill 991 would seek to lower the standard for who constitutes a public figure, as well as broaden the definition of defamation, which Andrade argues would provide justice that is currently 'almost completely being denied.'2
- The provisions include: 'journalist’s privilege does not apply to defamation claims when the defendant is a professional journalist or media entity'; 'creates presumption that statement by anonymous source is presumptively false'; and 'public figure does not need to show actual malice to prevail in defamation action.'3
- The bill is potentially aimed at launching legal cases 'with the goal of eventually overturning New York Times v. Sullivan' — a 1964 Supreme Court finding that constrained public officials’ ability to sue publishers for defamation of character.4
- In that case — which Andrade called on the Supreme Court to review in his initial bill proposal before scrapping it in bill 991 — justices ruled that public officials can not get legal damages from journalists who report false information unless it was done with 'actual malice.'2
- In the face of backlash, Andrade said the bill is prepared for legal cases, but that if any part is found invalid it doesn't make the other parts invalid, too. The lawmaker also said that he was 'unaware' of any involvement with the bill by the governor.2
Sources: 1NBC, 2The palm beach post, 3The florida senate and 4Raw Story.
- Left narrative, as provided by Esquire. As the epicenter of the new conservative culture war, and after already passing legislation to attack education, history, and LGBTQ rights, DeSantis and the Florida GOP have now doubled down on their aggressive push to erase anything that goes against their backward worldview. It is also concerning that SCOTUS could follow suit on reactionary moves against the media based on legislation like this.
- Right narrative, as provided by Floridapolitics. The immensely influential corporate media have been ruthlessly and, arguably, criminally defaming conservatives for a long time. The 1964 SCOTUS case was decided when news anchors actually reported the news rather than spent their days blatantly lying about Republicans. Today's world is very different, and it's about time someone on the right stopped cowering to the moderate faction of the GOP and started going after the elites.