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Lecture 13

COM 250 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Pentagon Papers, Seditious Libel, Misdemeanor


Department
Communication
Course Code
COM 250
Professor
Terilli Samuel
Lecture
13

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COM$250$
Class$13$
Defamatory$Statement$
!
The!defamatory!statement:!
o The!message!must!be!perceived!as!insulting!or!harmful!among!“right!thinking!
persons”!
Publication:!
o The!message!must!be!communicated!to!a!third!party,!whether!by!voice,!print,!or!
some!other!means.!
Identification:!
o The!plaintiff!must!be!identifiable!as!the!person!defamed!
o Plaintiff!must!prove!to!the!court!that!somehow!she/he!is!identified!by!the!
alleged!defamation!(person!does!not!have!to!be!mentioned!specifically!by!name)!
Fault:!
o In!some!cases,!a!fourth!condition!of!fault!must!be!proved!
§ Public!officials!and!public!figures!
o These!persons!in!public!life!must!prove!a!strict!standard!of!fault!known!as!
“actual!malice,”!meaning!that!they!have!to!prove!that!the!defamation!was!a!
deliberate!and!reckless!falsehood!
§ Gertz!v!Welsh!(1974)!extended!the!condition!of!fault!to!private!
individuals!(negligence)!!
Defenses:!
o Truth!
§ Most!states!make!truth!a!complete!defense!in!slander!and!libel!suits!
§ Some!states!qualify!the!rule!by!saying!that!truth!must!be!communicated!
with!“good!motives”!and!justifiable!ends!
o Does!not!do!further!harm!to!a!reputation!already!tarnished!
§ If!the!plaintiff’s!reputation!is!already!tarnished!and!the!speech!cannot!
harm!it!further!
o Privileged!!
§ Absolute!privilege!
Extended!to!certain!government!officials!in!the!conduct!of!their!
work!
§ Qualified!privilege!
Some!immunity,!but!not!complete!protection!(e.g.,!book!reviews!
or!plays,!commercial!products,!etc.!
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