Episode 20: Fake News, Alternative Facts and the Impact of Carbone v. CNN
This week, Online Editor Anthony Zangrillo is joined by Special Guest Maximilian Kempf to discuss the impact of Davide Carbone v. Cable News Network. Carbone was the chief executive of West Palm Beach, Fla.-based St. Mary’s Medical Center until CNN reported in June 2015 that the infant mortality rate for open-heart surgery at the hospital was three times the national average. After aggressive coverage by CNN, he was later forced to resign. Carbone subsequently filed a defamation lawsuit and CNN attempted to strike the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans ended up rendering Georgia’s anti-SLAPP legislation ineffectual. Many states have anti-SLAPP statutes in the interest of guarding against frivolous lawsuits attacking First Amendment activity. Under these SLAPP statutes, plaintiffs have to show a likelihood of prevailing before the case moves any further. In this case, the judge utilized a mere plausibility standard, rather than probability. Under plausibility, plaintiffs will have less hurdles to overcome and move further to discovery.
The podcast explores the ramifications of this decision, and the policy arguments for both parties. The Motion Picture Association of America even submitted an amicus brief in this case, likely foreseeing how this decision could make it easier to bring stolen script claims against movie studios. From there, the conversation points to how this decision actually aligns with Trump’s threat to open up libel laws and looks to how possible “fake news” claims should be litigated under the current law.
As a fun aside, Kyrie Irving’s belief that the Earth is flat is discussed as well as the infamous Oscar 2017 “Best Picture” mishap.