THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, February 1, 1985
STRICTLY KOSHER MEAT MARKET
13831 W. 9 Mile Rd., Oak Park 543-7092
GLATT KOSHER MEATS ADAS
(at reasonable prices)
had "acted negligently and
carelessly in reporting and verify-
ing the information . ."
Time had reported that the Is-
raeli general had met with
Lebanese Phalangist leaders
) shortly before the Sabra and
Shatila massacres and discussed
The public will not
) endure such
displayed by Time
which, after the
d maintained the story
avenging the assassination of
Sharon may have won what he
called a "moral victory" in that he
proved the story wrong but the
magazine escaped having to pay
any damages because of the 1964
Supreme Court decision (New
York Times vs. Sullivan).
In that decision, the court ruled
that in order for public officials to
win libel cases they must prove
malice which, the court stated,
means it must be proven that the
defendant printed the offensive
article while knowing it was false
or showing reckless disregard for
That is almost an impossible
standard to prove in court. As a
result, very few public officials
have won libel cases and Sharon's
case was among the more highly-
publicized which centered on this
issue. The pending case of U.S.
General William Westmoreland
against CBS will be decided on the
It never has been quite clear
why the court established motiva-
tion as a key factor in establishing
libel for public officials. Motiva-
tion — as in criminal cases —
seems to be a valid standard for
meting out punishment or dam-
ages in civil cases. But hanging
the definition of libel on motiva-
tion hardly serves the public
interest when the issue involves
whether information dissemi-
nated to the pubic is defamatory
"a robust and uninhibited debate"
on public issues.
But the public is ill-served to
conduct such debates based on er-
roneous, misleading and, in the
Sharon case, defamatory informa-
The media has generally sup-
ported these rulings, particularly
the Sullivan decision, arguing
that more stringent legal
standards would have a "chilling"
effect on reporters and editors,
making them more reluctant to
print controversial information.
If that reluctance stems from
being more careful, then the chil-
ling effect should be welcome. If
editors, fearing accountability in
the courts, set higher standards of
Continued on next page
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During the last 20 years, the
court generally has ruled in favor
of the media with liberal deci-
sions, stating that it wants to as-
sure and encourage what it calls
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