Reader's Corner

Fake news is a real dilemma for the law


The labelling of information as "fake news" has become yet another weapon in battles of the Trump presidency, used by the administration and its supporters as well as its critics.

But the label has been applied to a wide variety of information, including both reporting errors and truthful information that the person applying the "fake news" label does not like or approve of. The label has also been applied to intentionally inaccurate, incomplete or misleading information disseminated in the media, and sometimes by official White House spokespeople.

With all these allegations of "fake news," it has become unclear what the term actually means, and how it differs from spin and framing of news and events. But it seems safe to define it as untruthful information made public by a seemingly journalistic entity with the intention of misleading the public, often to score a political point. Such "news" may be politically and socially undesirable. But it would likely be difficult to combat such information and its purveyors legally because of the legal principles that have developed to protect news and commentary under the First Amendment. 

Read more from Eric Robinson

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