The Alex Jones Lawsuit Will Redefine Free Speech
At stake: what platforms constitute a serious media institution, and what kind of actions signify a public figure
Once upon a time, there was a fringe news outlet with a loud and dissenting opinion. A fatal shooting, it claimed, was not at all what it seemed to be: It was a hoax, orchestrated by some shadowy force—probably Communists—bent on replacing freedom with dictatorship. This was untrue, but that didn’t stop the outlet from naming and insulting alleged collaborators. And so the media outlet was sued for defamation.
This story might seem familiar, but we’re not actually talking about Alex Jones, the Infowars founder who infamously spread the lie that the Sandy Hook school shooting was an elaborate hoax—the grieving parents simply crisis actors—across YouTube, and is now being sued by Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, the parents of Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old killed in the attack. We’re talking about Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., a Supreme Court case that will provide the legal precedent for the court to decide how hard or easy it will be to take Alex Jones to task for spreading lies.
Trouble is, that case was tried in 1974.
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