Last week there was considerable journalistic and political furor over a article in The Atlantic magazine claiming that President Trump had referred to our nations fallen heroes as “suckers and losers.” The story was written by Chief Editor Jeffrey Goldberg and was said to be based on several anonymous sources.
The article provoked a strong response from the White House, and more than a dozen persons, not all of them friends of Trump, stepped forward to strongly challenge the veracity of Goldberg’s story. At least one key part of the anonymous sources’ account was disproven by contemporary evidence. The President himself said that the entire article was a ugly fabrication.
Unfortunately, because of our the nature of our libel and slander laws, there is no way for public figures in America to defend themselves against this sort of attack. Goldberg says that his sources demanded anonymity for fear of verbal assaults from Trump supporters. They are doubtless correct. However, anyone making such outrageously harmful charges against another person should identify themselves and provide some evidence to support their story. Otherwise, they should remain silent. Goldberg, by publishing this article, has done the nation and journalism a great disservice.
One thought on “Anonymous Slander”
While it is generally considered that the press can report on events involving PUBLIC figures such as Trump are immune from prosecution merely by stating that “someone told them that”, there have been cases where publications have been held liable for printing what they SHOULD HAVE known were outrageous and slanderous and that they had no RELIABLE source for. The Midnight Sun, the Star, National Enquirer and other trashy super market checkout stand publications have made their business by publishing such outrageous stories about many PUBLIC figures and while the victims of their articles were outraged few bothered to sue since they thought that it would cost more than it’s worth but a few have sued and won and have put a few of the published out of business entirely. It’s time that Trump did the same, he certainly can afford it and if you believe Madison Avenue’s claim that “all publicity is good publicity” then he could benefit from the exposure. Particularly if it exonerated him of their allegations.
See ‘How the Supermarket Tabloids Stay Out of Court’,
So called “Journalism” has fallen to a low level of creditability in this country that I no longer bother to watch the news and I’ve cancelled every newspaper and magazine. Further I would love to see all of the legal protections on journalist and publisher abolished.