Judge Says Blogs Are Guilty Of, Well, Just Guilty Dammit!

from the take-a-letter dept

It’s not totally clear what’s going on with this story, but it’s worth passing along anyway. An article on a tech news site reports how Edward Fadeley, a retired Oregon judge, “has launched a blistering attack on the blogosphere”, saying it’s full of lies and defamation, with no easy legal recourse to keep things in check. This isn’t really true — libel and other laws regarding defamation apply online, just as they do off. An apparently misguided person spouting off about the dangers of the internet isn’t really anything new, but the sheer lack of context for the outburst is puzzling. The rant looks to have first appeared as an op-ed in The Oregonian newspaper in June, but apparently Fadeley felt strong enough about it to issue his own press release repeating it this week. Whatever the motivation, it would be nice to see a former state Supreme Court justice put a little more effort into creative a coherent argument. He says, “Ten years ago Congress passed a law requiring blog operators to protect the public by self-regulation,” and it’s not clear at all what he’s talking about, maybe part of the Communications Decency Act that protects site owners from comments others leave on their sites, which has been affirmed by courts several times — but we’re relatively certain that members of Congress (known for being such a tech-savvy bunch) ten years ago had never heard the word “blog”. He also says that bloggers don’t deserve the same protections as journalists because they’re not held to the same standards, apparently unaware that “real journalists” can make stuff up too, or even make defamatory claims. He closes by saying law needs to catch up to technology, but that simply isn’t the case when current laws apply to new media just like they do old media.

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Comments on “Judge Says Blogs Are Guilty Of, Well, Just Guilty Dammit!”

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The Man says:

Yes Bloggers Lie, but so does the mainstream news

You expect lies and poor research from Bloggers, but how can you rant against them when the hard news lies and does poor research. For historical evidence of this, ask Dan about President Bush’s desertion. Recent evidence would be Routers publishing photos that had obviously been doctored to portray one side of the story. Like making it look like a Israeli soldier is pointing a gun at Lebanese women and children, when the real photo showed him trying to help them to cover.

If the real news lies, how can anyone expect a bunch of admittedly biased hacks to report any better.

Amy Alkon (user link) says:

It’s just as ridiculous when people blame “the media” (or as “The Man” does above) “mainstream news” or “hard news” for lying. The individual journalist or blogger is responsible. I’m very aware of libel/slander laws and I’m careful only to report the truth in my work or to clearly state my point of view as opinion. There’s a lot of media now, and not all of it is going to be good, just as not every doctor is going to be good, responsible, and professional either.

Mike Mixer says:

Ed Fadeley

Now you guys have a glimpse into the lawmakers in Oregon. We have been under the influence of these jackasses for going on 40 years now and Ed isn’t the worst by a damn sight. In Oregon we have a saying about the fools and idiots,We say “whatya expect,
he’s from Portland” Well, He’s from Portland.(A few might get the Fawlty Towers ref.)

Zoredache says:

>> are you saying that no journalist or media outlet ever lies or at the very least “slants” …

I highly doubt that you can find an organization that doesn’t slant topic. I really find it bizare that we contiune to believe that humans in can be impartial. I believe everyone will slant a story to make it reflect their own opinions and prejudices. Personally I find the big media annoying because your average journalists either deludes themselves into believing they are being impartial, or they don’t try at all and just lie and say they are.

Jamie says:

Blog integrity

Sorry, I have to agree with Justice Fadeley here (but probably for different reasons).

As a former journalist who was bound by a stringent threshold and limited on what I could print, I’m disheartened to see unsourced stories and half-truths spread widely on blogs.

Unfortunately, these are presumed to be accurate. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they aren’t. Most often they muck up a complex issue. But always, they are unmonitored. I don’t care what you say about libel law applying to Internet publishing — it’s FAR harder to establish damages, because you can’t quantify the audience who read what was printed online.

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