Free Essay Sample: Libel Defense

Published: 2024-01-14
Free Essay Sample: Libel Defense
Essay type:  Problem solution essays
Categories:  United States Law Media Essays by pagecount
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 935 words
8 min read

Defamation through libel can be countered successfully using various defense methods. These methods include truth, absolute privilege, qualified privilege, and statement of opinion. Defamation in the U.S.A. is tried using state laws. Each state has its premise that it uses to decide if defamation is true or false. Media organizations often face a libel lawsuit that requires them to counter the plaintiff by proving that they were right.

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The first way to defend against libel is to use truth by confirming that the media organization's information was of absolute truth. Absolute truth is the best and easiest way to defend against libel. If the written information is the truth, then it cannot be termed as defamatory. The case of State v Bush et al.,122 Ind.43,23 N.E. 677 is an example of a case where absolute truth was used as a defense against libel. The state of Indiana filed a case against Buh et al. for libel accusations. The court's decision used truth to vindicate the newspaper editors. The court's ruling was that "If the words published, were, in fact, true, whether published in good or not, the appellees were not guilty of the crime charged." (Harrington,2020).

The media organization can use a statement of opinion against libel suits because false statements are proven for defamation. A statement of opinion cannot be used against an individual for libel accusations. An example of scenario where the statement of opinion is used is a case where someone writes down articles like "I think that Jackson beat up his wife last weekend." If the written statement leads to Jackson losing his jobs and friends and decides to sue, then you can use the statement of opinion in defense. In a court of law, it can be argued that it was an opinion and did not say exactly that Jackson beat up his wife. In the statement, adding the word helped in qualifying the writing to be a statement of opinion. The jury is expected to carry diligent research to confirm that an accused media organization is not making a statement of fact and putting it out as a statement of opinion.

The fair comment and criticism defense in America can be used as a media privilege to protect them, allowing them to engage in free discussion. Therefore, the media can use fair comments when engaging public figures on pressing matters that affect the public. The media are believed to be agents of good in society. The fair comment and criticism concept is that the public interest is subjected to fair comment when required. The media organizations can, therefore, claim libel cases not to be true because of acceptable criticism. An example of fair comment and criticism is witnessed in the Missouri case of Diener V Star-Chronicle Publishing Co.,230 Mo.613,132 S.W. 1143(1910; Diener I). The court's ruling was the newspaper was not libeling against Diener because their publishing was not directed at Diener rather to the office he held (Sableman, n.d).

The media organization can prove that the plaintiff gave consent before the article was published. Proving that plaintiff gave consent through written statements or interviews is enough defense that can be used against libel. Some instances are hard to prove consent, especially written one but still, there is an option to win a case if proof of consent is established. Rhetorical hyperbole is another defense method that can be used by media organizations. Rhetorical hyperbole is a statement used to express facts about a person. It cannot be claimed that factual assertions are interpreted to be a statements of facts. It will require the plaintiff to prove that the defamation was a falsity. The courts also allow for imaginative expression, so rhetorical hyperbole cannot claim libel against the media. An example of rhetorical hyperbole use in court is with the case of Milkovich v Lorain Journal Co. The court ruling was that the addition of rhetorical hyperbole had increased the case of discourse within the nation's justice system. The case of Husler v Falwell created the use of missing opinion defense to defend against libel. Articulations in the " Asshole of the Month" segment in Hustler magazine that depicted a women's activist chief as a "pus bloated walking sphincter," "wacko." The activist was referred to as somebody who experiences "bizarre paranoia" sentiment because the setting of the magazine and segment clarified that the proclamations were "understood as ridicule or vituperation" and " telegraph to a reader that the article presents opinions, not allegations of fact." Leidholdt v. L.F.P. Inc., 860 F.2d 890 (ninth Cir. 1988).

The context and totality of circumstances is a critical factor to consider if a libel holds or not. The media organizations have the luxury to prove that alleged defamation did not occur. A good example is blogs written by media organizations. The blogs are likely to be considered as opinions and not facts that took place. The internet age continues to present challenges that require courts to prove cases of libel against media houses. The evaluation of the statement of context will determine the issues discussed within a given forum hold as defamation or not.


Harrington, J. (2020). Truth as a Complete Defence in an Action for Libel. Retrieved 5 December 2020, from

Leidholdt v. L.F.P. Inc., 860 F.2d 890 | Casetext Search + Citator. (, 2020). Retrieved 6 December 2020, from


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