Press: The Right to Fake Quotes

A journalist's legal victory raises questions about ethics

Journalism at best only approximates reality, because writers must inevitably select and compress. If they cannot cram in the whole truth, however, they can be expected to deliver the truth and nothing but -- especially between quotation marks. The very use of that punctuation signals a special claim to credibility: this is not judgment but unfiltered fact.

To the consternation of many journalists, however, the meaning of those quotation marks has been blurred by a three-judge panel of the U.S. appeals court in California. In a 2-to-1 vote, the judges this month dismissed a libel suit by psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson against...

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