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MAGA judge freaks out, wants Supreme Court to overturn 1964 case protecting media from defamation cases by public officials

Long story short, Liberian energy officials sued a DC-based anti-corruption NGO called Global Witness for a report they published which alleged those officials had accepted bribes in return for selling Exxon Mobil a claim on oil reserves off the coast of Liberia. The circuit court ruled in favor of Global Witness citing the decision in the 1964 case New York Times v Sullivan, which places a much higher bar for defamation cases brought by public officials against media for their reporting. The DC circuit appeals court again tossed the case 2 to 1, but Judge Laurence Silberman, a George W Bush appointee, wrote this batshit dissent, lamenting that only Rupert Murdoch and his son stand alone against the others in fighting Dem bias in media. Here’s an excerpt:

“Although the bias against the Republican Party – not just controversial individuals – is rather shocking today, this is not new; it is a long-term, secular trend going back at least to the ’70s. (I do not mean to defend or criticize the behavior of any particular politician). Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), The New York Times and The Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction. The orientation of these three papers is followed by The Associated Press and most large papers across the country (such as the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe). Nearly all television – network and cable – is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even the government-supported National Public Radio follows along. As has become apparent, Silicon Valley also has an enormous influence over the distribution of news. And it similarly filters news delivery in ways favorable to the Democratic Party. See Kaitlyn Tiffany, Twitter Goofed It, The Atlantic (2020) (‘Within a few hours, Facebook announced that it would limit [a New York Post] story’s spread on its platform while its third-party fact-checkers somehow investigated the information. Soon after, Twitter took an even more dramatic stance: Without immediate public explanation, it completely banned users from posting the link to the story.”).”

“It is well-accepted that viewpoint discrimination ‘raises the specter that the Government may effectively drive certain ideas or viewpoints from the marketplace.’ R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minn., 505 U.S. 377, 387 (1992). But ideological homogeneity in the media – or in the channels of information distribution – risks repressing certain ideas from the public consciousness just as surely as if access were restricted by the government. To be sure, there are a few notable exceptions to Democratic Party ideological control: Fox News, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. It should be sobering for those concerned about news bias that these institutions are controlled by a single man and his son. Will a lone holdout remain in what is otherwise a frighteningly orthodox media culture? After all, there are serious efforts to muzzle Fox News. And although upstart (mainly online) conservative networks have emerged in recent years, their visibility has been decidedly curtailed by Social Media, either by direct bans or content-based censorship.”

Read the rest of the ruling here. It’s actually pretty interesting to skim in spite of a lot of dry subject matter relating to the politics of Liberian oil extraction.

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