First Amendment attorney says Sentinel could have a viable case against State Senator over “fake news” accusation
The publisher of the Grand Junction Sentinel is serious about suing State Sen. Ray Scott over his public claim that the Grand Junction Sentinel is “fake news.”
But, he told Denver writer Corey Hutchins, “we’re going to have some cooling-off period before I file anything.”
Hutchins, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review’s United States Project: This particular publisher, it should be noted, is no stranger to a courtroom. Before taking the helm of the Sentinel in 2009, Seaton was a commercial litigator. “This is what I used to do,” he told me. “I practiced law in Kansas City for 13 years, so I’m accustomed to resolving business damage in the judicial system. So I don’t view this really as any different.”
The publisher says he has already seen people on Facebook pledge to cancel newspaper subscriptions after the lawmaker’s comments.
“What I consider actionable is the attack on the Sentinel as fake news,” Seaton says. “I can take the criticism that we’re too far right, or we’re too far left, or our reporter was sloppy, or our editorial misunderstands the issue, that I can handle. What I can’t abide is an attack on the essence of what we do.”
Hutchins quotes Denver First Amendment attorney Steve Zansberg, as saying that “Scott could be liable under libel law if he made statements that are provably false and made “with the requisite knowledge of their falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.”
Does this mean Donald Trump is in line to be sued by CNN and others, which the President has attacked as fake news outlets? I hope so.