Libel laws apply to bloggers, as well as traditional journalists

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Denny’s opinion (we are all entitled to have wrong ones) seems designed to frighten people who might dare to disagree with his pronouncements. In fact, compared to a much better informed (and perhaps more intellectually honest) opinion at SeattleWeekly.com titled “Crystal Cox’s Bad Precedent” (http://www.seattleweekly.com/2011-12-14/news/crystal-cox-s-bad-precedent/), Denny’s piece seems to walk perilously close to the line of being strategically deceptive.
As pointed out by the Seattle news source, the real problem is with the Oregon shield law. In fact the Seattle piece says in part, “Washington’s counterpart to Oregon’s shield law goes a step further, specifically protecting bloggers.” U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez’s ruling that, in effect, that Crystal Cox wasn’t a journalist simply because she didn’t get a paycheck from an official media outlet may not have violated the Oregon shield law, but it is obviously out of step with controlling U.S. Supreme Court 1st Amendment case law regarding free speech. History is sufficiently clear that the Founders never intended to create a government-approved journalistic aristocracy as arguably implied by Denny’s piece.
Another opinion on the issue better informed than Denny’s is “What the Crystal Cox case means for digital media” by Dan Gillmor of the UK’s Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/dec/08/crystal-cox-case-digital-media). Gillmor astutely points out, “An Oregon court ruling against a blogger addressed the wrong question. It should be: what is journalism, not who is a journalist?”
There is a tension inherent between self-perceived government-approved journalistic aristocrats like Denny who clearly serve Power and “the little people” who suffer under the provably UNconstitutional system owned and controlled by transnational debt-as-money oligarchs who were created and enabled by revisionist-history lies. The government-approved journalistic aristocrats will never talk about the provable FACT, complete with all of its logical ramifications, that the Founders voted 9-2 against giving the national government the power to print paper money. Instead, they will try to frighten those who would expose the immense fraud with veiled threats of libel suits. But I can’t really see that working, even in an intellectually corrupt court system in which, as pointed out by Gerry Spence’s heroic book, “With Justice for None”, the judges also serve Power.

I would add some valuable information for anyone who may be interested: Article 2, Section 10 of the Colorado Constitution says in pertinent part: “Freedom of speech and press…every person shall be free to speak, write or publish whatever he will on any subject, ... and in all suits and prosecutions of libel the truth thereof may be given in evidence, and the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the fact.”
I’d like to see the ACLU appeal on behalf of Crystal Cox, depending on the legal posture of her case. (For example, if she didn’t object, there’s nothing to appeal, since all defenses and objections not entered are deemed waived.) In my opinion — and, as a blogger myself, I try to pay close attention to 1st Amendment law — the Oregon statute is probably unconstitutional as applied. A couple of interesting U.S. Supreme Court decisions to read are: RE libel - Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), RE political speech - Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) (unanimous court), & Meyer v Grant, 486 US 414 (1988) (unanimous court), RE sedition - compare Pennsylvania v. Nelson, 350 U.S. 497 (1956) dissent to Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) (unanimous court). You can read U.S. Supreme Court decisions at FindLaw (http://bit.ly/aFCjoe)  and Justia (http://bit.ly/9bRHsU). Just type in the case cite numbers & click “search”.
Lastly, be sure to remember: if it’s true (PROVABLY true is better still), it isn’t libel, even if a politically connected member of the government-approved journalistic aristocracy is able to persuade a Power-serving judge to try to manipulate a jury otherwise. And lest you think judicial railroadings are impossible in America, I refer you to the case of the Haymarket martyrs and the “honorable” Judge Joseph Gary.

On August 26, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals For the 1st Circuit recently said in Glik v. Cunniffe, No. 10-1764: “The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. Houchins, 438 U.S. at 16 (Stewart, J., concurring) (noting that the Constitution “assure[s] the public and the press equal access once government has opened its doors”); Branzburg, 408 U.S. at 684 (’[T]he First Amendment does not guarantee the press a constitutional right of special access to information not available to the public generally.’). ...”
“Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are
now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.”
It would seem that the 1st CCApp doesn’t share Denny’s thinly-diguised government-approved-journalistic-aristocracy-friendly point of view about citizen bloggers.
The 1st CCApp further said, “In summary, though not unqualified, a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment. Accordingly, we hold that the district court did not err in denying qualified immunity to the appellants on Glik’s First Amendment claim.”
I don’t know the all the specific facts of Crystal Cox’s case, nor do I wish to. If she didn’t do her best to present the truth to her readers, she certainly should have. But I view that as a completely separate issue from the journalism aristocracy trying to intimidate citizen bloggers, as I believe was Denny’s intent.



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