Is there no such thing as neutral reportage?

by   |  03.29.05  |  Current Events

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Pennsylvania public officials to sue the media over the false accusations of their political opponents.

Ten years ago, a Parkesburg, Penn., city councilman called the mayor and a fellow councilman “liars” and a “bunch of draft dodgers” and insinuated they were homosexuals and pedophiles. Under typical journalism standards, it’s news when an elected official libels another elected official, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the newspaper was not shielded from liability. The Supreme Court refused cert today.

In 1977, in Edwards v. National Audubon Society, 556 F.2d 113, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recognized the “neutral reportage” priviledge, saying “we believe that the New York Times cannot, consistently with the First Amendment, be afflicted with a libel judgment for the accurate reporting of newsworthy accusations made by a responsible and well-noted organization.”

The Supreme Court then refused certiorari.

Very odd.