Saturday, February 19, 2005

Newspaper Guilty of Libel

The Boston Globe reported today that the Boston Herald has been found guilty in a libel trial and ordered to pay a local judge $2.1 million. The Boston Herald and its reporter, David Wedge, reported that, in addition to other failings, Judge Ernest B. Murphy told defense lawyers and prosecutors that a 14 year old rape victim should be told "to get over it." Then the reporter made the rounds of talk shows, and Murphy was soon a national villain, particularly among conservative pundits. Problem is, the judge didn't say that, and what he did say was taken out of context. The reporter's sources, "anonymous" of course, turned out to be prosecutors, and only one was present when the judge made his remarks. The Boston Herald released this statement:

We believe the First Amendment allows news organizations to provide uninhibited coverage of government and public figures and we will continue to cover them vigorously. ... We have complete faith in our reporter David Wedge, and we are confident this decision will be reversed on appeal.

Looks like these folks studied at the Dan Rather school of journalism.

2 Comments:

Blogger Hatcher said...

Having read what the paper reported and what the judge claims to have actually said, this seems like the right decision. It's exactly what libel laws are intended to cover.

6:21 AM, February 19, 2005  
Blogger sygamel said...

Change the words around and you have the blogosphere manifesto:

We believe the First Amendment allows blogs to provide uninhibited coverage of mainstream printed and visual media and we will continue to cover them vigorously.

6:51 AM, February 19, 2005  

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