I was wondering how some talk show hosts can defame others with impunity. First of all, I will briefly (don’t go away) look at defamation, libel and slander. Defamation is an area of law that provides a civil remedy when someone’s words end up causing harm to a person’s reputation or livelihood. Libel is a written or published defamatory statement, while slander is spoken defamation. So, how come I have seen many uncharged examples of talk show hosts making false statements that defame the reputation of others? Well, the answer is just outrageous!
KNOWN LIARS CANNOT BE CHARGED WITH DEFAMATION! REALLY? The thinking is that reasonable people would know the difference between a liar and an honest person. However, I believe when these known liars are presented within the veiled framework of a supposed news show whether on the radio or television, it makes it very difficult for people to know the difference. So, I think it is very important for each of us to know the difference between entertainment news talk show hosts and news journalists. When challenged about the accuracy of his views, one commentator said “I’m a talk show host, not a journalist” suggesting that talk show hosts are not accountable to the truth while journalists are.
This same talk show host has made countless false statements and gets paid tens of millions of dollars a year because his ratings are so good. This is very sad. While at the same time, ABC News investigative reporter, Brian Ross was suspended for saying that “candidate Trump” rather than “President-elect Trump” ordered Mike Flynn to contact the Russians about foreign policy. I know that this mistake makes a big difference. However, the point is that ABC News took immediate action by suspending Ross and making a public correction and apology more or less stating that regaining news consumers’ trust and being accurate was of the greatest importance to them. This is just one convenient example of journalistic accountability and unaccountable entertainment news, I am certain there are many more examples.
The point is to be aware of the difference between entertainment news and journalism in your search for truth.
Click link below to see the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics