A fierce war against fake news | Opinion

Previously, people received their news from newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations, which have editors who play the invaluable role of weighing the timeliness and, more importantly, the accuracy of the news that they publish.

Then the Internet arrived and, with it, the individual interpretation of the news. There may be occasional efforts to tone down or even eliminate the broadcast of opinions rather than facts, but facts and truth have drastically given way to lies and fabrications.

Far-left and far-right broadcasters have replaced objective newscasts as sources of news for too many of their followers.

Alex Jones is one such far-right source, leading millions of radio listeners to believe, among other things, that the murder of 20 students and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 was a hoax.

Jones repeatedly told his audience that the tragedy was not a tragedy at all, but a fiction made up by people who just wanted to institute gun control across America. The parents of these “victims”, he said on the air, were liars.

Two of those parents sued Jones and his broadcasting company, Infowars, for millions over the damage and anguish he and his listeners caused them.

“I think a lot of people see this as kind of a swipe at fake news, and it’s important to realize that defamation law deals with a very particular type of fake news,” said Eugene Volokh, professor of the first amendment at UCLA school. of Law, told The Associated Press.

The AP story continued: “U.S. courts have long held that defamatory statements — lies that harm a person’s or company’s reputation — are not protected as free speech. , but lies about other topics, like science, history, or government, are. For example, saying that COVID-19 isn’t real isn’t defamatory, but spreading lies about a doctor treating coronavirus patients is.

“This distinction is why Jones, who attacked the parents of Sandy Hook victims and claimed the 2012 shooting was staged with actors to enforce gun control, is being forced to pay while the Holocaust deniers, flat earthers and vaccine skeptics are free to post their theories without much fear of a multi-million dollar judgment.

Jones admitted in court that the Sandy Hook disaster was real. He was fined $49.3 million in damages. He faces two other lawsuits from other parents, although he has now filed for bankruptcy.

Sensible, sensitive Americans should be pleased that Jones is being forced to confess and pay, and relieved that despicable behavior like his is being opposed.

Opinion is one thing; lies are another. The First Amendment is our American treasure. To abuse it is our misery.

And that is why legitimate information sellers remain one of our greatest salvations. Those who would compromise this mission are among our most dangerous enemies.


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