Radio: Slander Is Libelous

Are radio's scandalmongers committing libel when they broadcast defamatory remarks from a script—or is it just slander?* Until last week this was a wide-open legal question. Then the New York Court of Appeals provided an answer by handing down a unanimous and—to radio—chilling decision.

The man most immediately affected was Walter Winchell (an old hand at libel suits), who had sought dismissal of a $50,000 action. George W. Hartmann, a onetime Columbia University professor, had accused Winchell of libeling him on a January 1944 broadcast.

Said concurring Justice Stanley H. Fuld: "When account is taken of the vast and far-flung audience reached by...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!