We’re back with another episode of Serious Trouble!
Ken and I started this week talking about the CNN town hall with Donald Trump. On CNN’s air, Trump repeated his denials of his assault of E. Jean Carroll — denials for which he was ordered the day before the town hall to pay a defamation judgment. Carroll has mused about suing him again, and she could, though her main challenge in court would be showing that his fresh denials further harmed her, beyond the damages she’s already been awarded compensation for. We also talked about the legal considerations facing CNN or any other network that might interview a person who is likely to make defamatory statements.
We talked about George Santos, who appears to be quite enjoying his role as a federal defendant, and about whether you should give a hyped-up press conference explaining why it was okay for you to take the unemployment benefits the government has charged you over (no).
And we talked about Nina Jankowicz, former head of the short-lived Disinformation Governance Board at the Department of Homeland Security. That board was dissolved after extensive attacks on Jankowicz in conservative media, and now she’s suing Fox News for defamation. Obviously, it’s not defamation to call someone “Scary Poppins.” But Jankowicz points to some specific factual falsehoods — like saying she was fired — and says those statements damaged her reputation and exposed her to threats. Ken and I discussed her uphill legal battle; most of the offending statements are constitutionally protected opinion, and she’ll face the burden of showing the handful of factual falsehoods were made with actual malice and were the source of the damage to her reputation. And we talked about how litigation like hers might affect news outlets discussing heated political controversies of the day.
We hope you enjoy the episode.