How do the United State courts rule between satire and slander?
Living in a country where media is very prevalent in our lives sometimes fake news can get to carried away, but how do courts differentiate defamatory news between satire? According to Kelly and Warner Law they state,” The United States courts have made it abundantly clear: parody and satire are not defamatory”. It really depends on who is seeing these stories and how they take humor and sarcasm. Satire is the funny version of news and can you can tell that it is fake. The United States courts protect satire as part of the First Amendment because everyone has the right to express themselves as long as it doesn’t interfere with the reputation of others. Where as defamatory news can cause harm to a person’s image due to lies that are very believable and passed off as true.
One very important case of satire and defamation is when Falwell, a pastor, sued Larry Flynt for an ad published in Hustler magazine. The ad implied Falwell had a intimate relationship with his mother. When the case reached the Supreme court the judges sided with Larry Flynt. They explained that the ad was satire and didn’t hurt Falwell’s reputation because it very noticeable that it was fake and pure humor. Although in a defamation case where Rebel Wilson sued Bauer Media for falsely accusing her of lying about her age and childhood and portraying her as a “serial liar”. This false accusation cost her a lot of “damage” because she wasn’t able to get any jobs.
“Satire V. Defamation: What’s The Difference Between Satire & Defamation?.” Kelly / Warner Law | Defamation Law, Internet Law, Business Law. N. p., 2014. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
“‘It’S Important To Stand Up To Bullies’: Rebel Wilson Wins Record Amount In Defamation Case.” Washington Post. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
” Defamation And Satire | Media Law Journal.” Medialawjournal.co.nz. N. p., 2018. Web. 20 Feb. 2018.
Throughout history, there has been many examples of Satire, or as it is more commonly know today as Fake News. You hear and see it all over the place whether it be on TV or on Facebook and other things like that. They use catchy titles and then once people are in they give them information that they know is either true or false but the reader doesn’t always know. In today’s day and age, there is so many places to get news from but because of that people don’t know whether it’s real or fake news. With all of this this you may wonder, is Satire protected under the first amendment? In 1988, there was a magazine named Hustler Magazine that posted pictures of nude women and political satire among other things. They posted a head shot of a man named Jerry Falwell and put certain words together that he actually said but in a different order about a sexual accouter. Falwell claimed it ruined his reputation and tried to sue Hustler for publishing it. The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in favor of Hustler because he did nothing wrong and no one in their right mind would believe the story to be factual.
Many people use Satire for their shows or blogs so people read them or watch them. In turn, if people read and see something they don’t like or agree with, they automatically call it fake news. Nobody knows what is true or not but to be fair, a lot of what you see is satire. People make livings off of satire, such as Stephen Colbert. A lot of people believe everything he says to be true.
“Hustler Magazine V. Falwell.” En.wikipedia.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 3 Oct. 2017.
Gioria, Ted. “The Death of Satire.” July 2015.
Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. We see satire all around the media today from The Onion to TV shows like John Oliver and The Daily Show. These are primarily examples of satire, but what makes these satire instead of fake news? Fake news is one of the biggest things on social media nowadays. Fake news is false information that refers to propaganda and false information under the guise of being authentic news. The first amendment states, under freedom of speech, that the government must respect citizens’ rights to express themselves, therefore satire is protected by the first amendment. The main reason for media is for people to be informed on what is going on in the world. Is fake news protected by the first amendment or is it an example of slander/libel? Many past presidential elections have been won because of fake news. For example, many Republican websites posted claims about Hillary Clinton this past election helping boost Trump’s support.
The question is: What is the difference between fake news and satire, and what separates the two? Satire is used for a corrective purpose to point out why things are wrong. One of satire’s purposes is to inform viewers on what is actually going on in today’s world. When comparing satire and fake news, the title of fake news says it all. Fake news is fake with no purpose to inform whatsoever. In a study by the website “techdirt” called, Yet Another Study Shows US Satire Programs Do A Better Job Informing Viewers Than Actual News Outlets., many surveys have been done showing that satire news has better informed people than regular news stations like Fox and CNN. Instead of choosing the left or the right side of politics, satire shows all sides of every story. Fake news is false information that misinforms many people and can be very dangerous.
There are so many examples for “fake news”, from the “Weekend Update” from Saturday Night Live to The daily show, from BuzzFeed to Political Cartoons. We only like to read stories that have an eye-catching headline but does the story have facts to back them up or is it “fake news” that don’t have the facts? Web sites make eye-catching headlines for us to click on them, they get money off every time someone clicks on that article. This is called “click bait”. So if companies make money off us clicking on their articles can we really trust them? Freedom of the Press is one of the most important parts of our country, we look to social media to inform us of new issues, and to keep a record of the events that happened and also know what’s going to happen. People go to social media before they do something rational. So is News on social media protected by the press?
On November 23, 2016, Noah Feldman stated that it’s a lot more expensive to generate true news stories than false ones. News requires reporting and research and institutional structures like editors and fact checkers to support them. On Chicago Tribune on December 6, 2016, Clarence Page(3) stated that Entertainment typically sells better than news. News people are limited to reporting reality. Fake news can be as unfair and unbalanced. It doesn’t help that our president calls CNN “Fake news”. A lot of people would agree with President Trump because he is a leader. News on the media it can change or damage your reputation if someone calls you out on that article saying that you published “fake news”. So is news on social media protected by the press?