No Case, Colonel: A new twist in a long libel suit

A new twist in a long libel suit

In 1979, when the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Herbert vs. Lando that plaintiffs in a libel suit have the right to probe into a journalist's "state of mind," many in the media bitterly protested. The courts, journalists argued, had become a kind of thought police, who licensed fishing expeditions into editorial decision making that would inevitably chill freedom of the press.

The fears were exaggerated; the news-gathering process does not appear to have frozen up. Moreover, it can be reasonably argued that in order to prove the press has recklessly or knowingly published a false hood--the legal standard...

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