Civil suits against disinformation promoters raise hopes for making liars pay
Many powerful people have benefited over the past decade by promoting false narratives to denigrate their competitors, arouse their followers, and feather their own nests. Mostly, these miscreants have suffered no consequencs. Some significant businesses, such as Fox News, have literally turned their propaganda into profits. Their recipe is pretty clear: frighten and arouse Americans who oppose the decline of white hegemony. Their most successful commentators regularly promote unfounded claims about non-white, non-conservative actors, especially ones indicating that those people aim to harm or destroy the last vestiges of white dominance. Significant audiences prefer to hear these messages rather than follow fact-based news. Advertisers reward the broadcasters for so effectively targeting and retaining such a large, well-defined audience. This situation has proved largely invulnerable to public exposure and fact-checking.
Now, however, there are signs of a promising counter-attack lauched by people who claim they have been materially harmed by the slew of lies. Civil suits allow people to recover damages from those who harm them. When someone defames another, the aggrieved party can sue and, if successful, recover damages from the liars. Truth is the principal defense against such charges, but liars cannot avail themselves of that defense. People can also sue product manufacturers for harm caused by their products, especially when the producers knowingly ignore dangers. The Government suits against tobacco companies and asbestos companies illustrate how lying companies can eventually be forced to pay huge compensation obligations in such cases.
There are a number of current suits that could further the cause of truth over disinformation:
- Rep. Bernie Thompson and the NAACP have sued Trump and his lawyer Giuliani for damages pursuant to the Capitol riot the defendants incited. They rely on a century-old law that was used to stifle the KKK. See more here.
- Smartmatic, a maker of voting machines, has sued Rubert Murdoch's Fox Corporation and three of its commentators for defamation. That suit seeks more than $1B in damages to the company's reputation and business prospects caused by the network's propaganda against the fairly tabulated 2020 Presidential votes. See more here.
- One defamation suit against Sydney Powell, a lawyer for the Trump Campaign, and another against Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, have been filed by Dominion, the maker of voting machines impugned by those lying about the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. See more here.
- Parents of children massacred at Sandy Hook have even found a way to penetrate all the protections gun makers wheedled out of politicians. They argue the weapons used in mass killings were unsafe and the manufactuers lied about that. See more here.
Let's all hope the trend of resisting disinformation continues and that we all find ways to make lying hurt the liars, not the innocent public.