Tag Archives: First Amendment

Alex Jones’ Actual Malice

How a Talk Show Host Can Help Defeat the First Amendment

By James F. Tracy

Beginning in April the parents of children said to have perished in the December 2012 Sandy Hook School massacre have filed defamation lawsuits against Alex Jones (e.g. here, here and here) and others claiming the radio talk show host defamed them by repeatedly stating to his audience that the incident was staged. The plaintiffs are requesting an unspecified monetary sum from the defendant, claiming he caused them to be harassed and threatened by parties who share Jones belief that the event was a hoax.

In the event these actions are tried they will in all probability not function as a venue where the veracity of the Sandy Hook event itself can be verified or disproven. Nor will the plaintiffs likely have to provide much if any evidence of harassment or pain and suffering.

The parents’ attorneys assert in one suit that “overwhelming–and indisputable–evidence exists showing what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.” This claim is unanimously (though erroneously) supported by Connecticut State authorities and national news media, and has been accepted as settled fact by a federal judge in Lucyv.Richards.

Alex Jones faces new defamation lawsuit, hires attorney

An open question remains whether the suing parties would need to suppress any countervailing evidence. This is largely because over five years after the Sandy Hook massacre event Jones still routinely exhibits uncertainty on whether or not the shooting was real. It is with this suggestion of “actual malice” that he is setting himself up for an untenable position before a jury.

Sullivanv.NewYorkTimes defined actual malice as a primary requisite for a plaintiff to prevail in bringing a defamation suit. In that famous episode the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an advertisement with factual inaccuracies produced by 1960s civil rights advocates and carried in the Times had not been published with actual malice. The court ruled that under the given circumstances the newspaper’s staff did not run the ad either 1) knowing it was false, or 2) with reckless disregard for the truth.

In the cases at hand Jones’ would-be confusion about Sandy Hook began just hours after the alleged shooting itself, when Jones, perhaps anticipating the mixed orientation of his audience toward the incident, expressed confusion over exactly what took place in Newtown. At the same time, and without any real evidence, he used anonymous callers’ observations to label the event a probable “false flag.” This ambiguity would continue for more than five years.

In the months and years thereafter substantial evidence emerged suggesting the “massacre” was probably a FEMA drill overseen by the Obama administration and presented as an actual attack to lay the groundwork for strengthening gun control legislation. Some of this data was compiled in the book edited by Professor Jim Fetzer, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.

Instead of inviting Fetzer on to his radio program following the book’s publication and subsequent censorship by Amazon.com in late 2015, Jones ran in the other direction, actually deleting a story by Infowars writer Adan Salazar from his website and thus in effect joining forces with Amazon to suppress that title’s revelations.

Jones conflicted stance toward Sandy Hook is now even mirrored in his attorney Marc Randazza’s public remarks. “We are going to be mounting a strong First Amendment defense and look forward to this being resolved in a civil and collegial manner,” Jones’ counsel Randazza explained to the New York Times, where he continues to note “that Mr. Jones has ‘a great deal of compassion for these parents.'”

Such a statement suggests how the Sandy Hook official narrative as  defined by the media (and in the minds of any potential jury member) is shared by the defendant himself and his own legal team.

University of Texas law professor David Anderson contends that Jones’ repeated waffling on Sandy Hook makes him especially vulnerable.

What I understand is that he’ll say these things at one point, and then later on, he’ll say, “Of course I know that wasn’t true.” If he says things, and then says he knows it wasn’t true, he’s in trouble. If he consistently says, “I never claimed that to be true,” then he’s probably on more solid ground.

Because Jones’ confusing array of broadcast utterances on Sandy Hook are all a matter of public record it will not be difficult for the “prosecution” to demonstrate Jones’ confusion amounts to a “reckless disregard for truth.”

Further, since Jones’ public persona precedes him and given the fact that jurors are often impressionable and will surely not be avid “Infowarriors,” plaintiffs’ counsel will likely find it easy to depict Jones as a devious and malicious actor. Unfortunately, these are all a jury needs to be fed to affirm the parents’ claims.

Jones’ uncertainty on the Sandy Hook massacre is especially unusual for a figure who is the self-proclaimed “founding father of the 9/11 truth movement,” and who for over two decades been the country’s most prominent “conspiracy theorist.”

Moreover, Jones strongly-voiced political opinions in many areas is what his fans find most appealing. In light of this the broadcaster has waffled so much on Sandy Hook that it’s difficult not to believe that he isn’t a pre-designated foil in a broader play to defeat what’s left of speech freedoms in the United States. It’s at least for certain that Jones is not any truth movement’s most desirable ally.

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California Considers Monitoring Online Speech

Editor’s Note: California may set the tone for a national conversation and perhaps even set of laws addressing what the state’s lawmakers deem “false information … spread online.” Since political motivation and ideology often underly what one deems “fake news” this proposed move should be especially concerning for those who truly cherish free thought and expression. As the article below suggests, Facebook’s recent nod to corporate media outlets as an antithesis to “fake news” has demonstrated how such an effort is likely to be instituted in California and elsewhere. The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that the law is dangerous because it places the governing body in a position to determine what is true and false.

The proposed speech legislation was introduced by California State Senator Richard Pan, a practicing pediatrician and the principal lawmaker behind SB277, the state’s mandatory vaccination law. A voter-driven campaign in 2015 to have Pan ousted from office was not successful.

California State Senator Richard Pan. Image Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

CBS13 Sacramento reports:

California is considering creating a “fake news” advisory group in order to monitor information posted and spread on social media.

Senate Bill 1424 would require the California Attorney General to create the advisory committee by April 1, 2019. It would need to consist of at least one person from the Department of Justice, representatives from social media providers, civil liberties advocates, and First Amendment scholars.

The advisory group would be required to study how false information is spread online and come up with a plan for social media platforms to fix the problem. The Attorney General would then need to present that plan to the Legislature by December 31, 2019. The group would also need to come up with criteria establishing what is “fake news” versus what is inflammatory or one-sided.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation opposes the bill, calling it “flawed” and “misguided.” The group argues the measure would make the government and advisory group responsible for deciding what is true or false. It also points out the First Amendment prevents content-based restrictions, even if the statements of “admittedly false.”

A recent study by Massachusetts-based MindEdge Learning was conducted with 1,000 young adults, ages 18 to 31-years-old. According to MindEdge’s nine-question survey, 52 percent of the respondents incorrectly answered at least four questions and received a failing grade. The number of young adults who could detect false information on the internet went down by all of the group’s measures. Only 19 percent of the college students and grads scored an “A” by getting eight or nine questions correct. That number is down from 24 percent in last year’s survey.

Facebook recently did away with its “Trending News” section – calling it outdated and unpopular. That section was criticized in the past after reports came out claiming the human editors were biased against conservatives. After Facebook fired those editors, the algorithms it replaced them with couldn’t always distinguish real news from fake.

After the 2016 election, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg denied that fake news spread on the social site he oversees influenced the outcome- calling the idea “crazy.”

A previous bill, AB 155, would have required schools to teach students the difference between “fake news” and “real news.” It died in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

The current bill SB 1424 was authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan. It passed the Senate on May 30, 2018 by a vote of 25-11. It will be heard by the Assembly Arts, Entertainment, Sports, tourism, and Internet Media Committee on Tuesday.

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DHS Moving to Police Journalists, Bloggers, ‘Media Influencers’

Chuck Frank
PPJ Gazette

Journalists are now on the chopping block as the Feds and Homeland Security are planning to make lists and spy on websites, news outlets, articles, blogs and whistleblower sites.  Not in America? Yes, in America,, the land of the First Amendment and free expression. Essentially, this “Big Brother” agenda is a hydrogen bomb that is set to explode and  we the people must stop it before it happens.

As World Net Daily reports,

“The DHS is looking for a contractor and has just announced that it intends to compile a comprehensive list of hundreds of thousands of ‘journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.’, and collect any ‘information that could be relevant’ about them.”  

This is unimaginable.  Now, consider this.  If the agenda is there to combat terrorist leaning news and also fake news,  but how much credible journalism is going to go down with the ship while the deck is shuffled and what price will a journalist pay for uncovering such stories which may be related to, let’s say, the “deep state and internal corruption?”  That’s just one example of censorship though a massive campaign to control mass communications and also hide wrong doing in government.

The First Amendment was primarily made for this very reason. Fact check.  Just when “alternative news” is making headway, those associated with the mainstream news and the New World Order are on a mission to destroy investigative journalism,, alternative news, and accurate reporting.  And now the Ministry of Truth, or is it the Ministry of Deception, AKA, the DHS who has spoken?   They will offer the people broad “protection” of the written word?  Where was the people’s protection during 9/11?  Were we told the whole story and truth about the event?  Will Wikileaks be banned?

 “Freedom of the press was one of the most sacred provisions within the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment.”  With the DHS ready to start policing and tracking hundreds of thousands of persons associated with journalism and compiling a database likened to North Korea, then one must ask the question,  who is really behind this and where does Congress stand on the issue?  

 I will paraphrase part of the First Amendment here with regard to journalism.   

 “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or the press…”  The dictionary meaning of abridge is to “reduce in scope.”  Therefore, the DHS and its chosen hit men could very well either place pressure on companies or individuals that do not “conform” to “their” definition of “credible journalism.”  “Did you tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

  Who can trust the DHS when it is already known that our own government has sponsored fake news and censorship for many years. 

See more on this topic in…     House of Lords: America in the Balance; Chapter 3, “Freedom of the Press”,   page 29 .  Charles W. Frank.  See the author’s page.   Available by request.

Be assured, preserving the freedom of the press and  of expression is paramount in in this day  and age because the world is already spiraling out of control.

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Wolfgang Halbig, Alex Jones Sued For Defamation By Sandy Hook Families

FBI Agent Joins as Plaintiff

Members of six victims’ families of  the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook massacre event in addition to FBI agent Bill Aldenberg have filed a defamation lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court naming radio host Alex Jones and well-known Sandy Hook Truth activist Wolfgang Halbig as defendants. The suit seeks damages “in excess of $15,000.”

ABC News reports:

The lawsuit accuses Jones, a staunch gun rights advocate who operates Infowars, a website that routinely propagates conspiracies, of “a years-long campaign of abusive and outrageous false statements.”

“While the nation recoiled at the terrible reality of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Alex Jones saw an opportunity,” the families’ attorney Josh Koskoff said. “He went on a sustained attack that has lasted for years, accusing shattered family members of being actors, stating as fact that the shooting itself was a hoax and inciting others to act on these malicious lies.”

The plaintiffs are the parents of four children killed at Sandy Hook — Jacqueline and Mark Barden, parents of Daniel; Nicole and Ian Hockley, parents of Dylan; Francine and David Wheeler, parents of Ben; and Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman, parents of Avielle — as well as Donna Soto, Carlee Soto-Parisi, Carlos Soto and Jillian Soto, the mother and siblings of first-grade teacher Victoria Leigh Soto; and Erica Lafferty-Garbatini, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung. FBI agent Bill Aldenberg is also a plaintiff.

“As a result of Jones’ campaign,” the families and Aldenberg said they have been “forced to endure malicious and cruel abuse at the hands of ruthless unscrupulous people.”

Their lawsuit also names Wolfgang Halbig, a Florida man who founded the now-defunct website SandyHookJustice, his associate Cory Sklanka and Infowars itself.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, cites Jones’ public assertions, including one from Sept. 25, 2014, in which he said video from the day of the shooting showed that the same children were cycled in and out of the school and that no emergency helicopters were sent to the school, and were “clearly staged.”

The lawsuit quotes Jones as saying on Jan. 13, 2015, “Yeah, so, Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured.”

The plaintiffs called such statements, among others, “outrageous, deeply painful and defamatory.”

Connecticut allows for libel and defamation actions to be brought “within two years of the date of the act complained of.” The lawsuit cites statements made by Jones in 2014 and 2015, suggesting the suit may in fact be dead on arrival. It will nevertheless generate substantial news coverage for the parties bringing the action.

Jones and his broadcast enterprises were named as defendants in another lawsuit filed by two other sets of Sandy Hook parents last month in Texas.

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Corporate Media Promote “World Press Freedom Day”

“Read and Watch” Mainstream Peers

Several corporate news media recognized the “World Press Freedom Day” on May 3 with promotional messages in the pages of their respective publications and via social media.

The occasion is in fact sponsored by the United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a vital arm of the UN that has overseen a multitude of social engineering projects since its founding in 1948 by individuals including eugenicist Julian Huxley.

From UNESCO’s site,

In 2018, UNESCO will lead the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day. The main event, jointly organized by UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Ghana, will take place in Accra, Ghana on 2 – 3 May. This year’s global theme is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law’, and will cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public. The Day will also examine contemporary challenges of ensuring press freedom online. (Emphases retained)

In celebration of UNESCO’s observation the New York Times, which has had a historic information-sharing and censorial relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency instructs its audience on examples of the vaunted Western “free press.”

The fact that such entities are promoting “Press Freedom” is especially noteworthy in the wake of the recent court decision that legally codifies the CIA practice of selectively disclosing select information to journalists and news outlets of its choosing.

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"Don’t just read The New York Times." Look at the front page of NYT today! #WorldPressFreedomDay from Journalism

The event is also recognized by US Senator Diane Feinstein, who encourages her followers to “fight fake news” by reading quality journalism. In 2013 Feinstein proposed legislation that would effectively define “journalism” as being only something practiced by individuals drawing a salary, thus eliminating a broad array of independent, citizen journalists from the information gathering, sharing, and analyzing equation.

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Director of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab Witch-Hunts Temple Journalism Prof

Takes Issue With “Fringe and Debunked Views”

(Updated May 10, 9:50AM EST)

Joshua Benton is a former Dallas Morning News reporter and Director of Harvard’s Niamey Journalism Lab. Image Credit: YouTube

Joshua Benton, the Director of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation-funded Journalism Lab disagreed with some views a commenter left on the organization’s blog, so he did a bit of research, found out who the commenter was, and on May 4 decided to reveal the person’s name and identity in a series of Tweets. The “doxxing,” or “outing” of the commenter has resulted in an ongoing investigation by her academic employer.

Fransesca Viola is an attorney and professor of journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia. She set up a Disqus account called “truthseeker” using her Temple email address. The Disqus service allows users to freely comment across a range of websites.

The Nieman Lab’s director identified Viola by seeing the email address attached to her Disqus account. “Ms. Viola voluntarily logged into a commenting service and left a comment on our site using her Temple email address,” Benton said. “All I did was click one link to see all the other comments she had posted using her Temple email address.”

But instead of seeking to personally contact Viola and discuss her views via email, Benton used his personal Twitter account to publicly ridicule several of the comments she left at the Niemen Lab and other sites under her nom de plume. It’s almost beyond question that Benton did this with the intent to create tension between Viola, her academic employer, and the pious liberal sect that require strict adherence to its doctrinal requisites at most every US university.

As of this writing the identity disclosure and attack remain posted on Benton’s Twitter feed and have been archived here.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Viola rightly took issue with Benton and the Nieman Foundation’s decision to publicly identify her. “I dispute the incorrect attributions and specious allegations posted by Joshua Benton on his Twitter feed at Harvard’s Nieman journalism think tank,” she wrote.

I am appalled by his improper ‘doxxing’ and by his flagrant violation of the Twitter, Disqus, Nieman and Harvard’s terms of service, the apparent violation of the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act — as well as the ethical and legal standards of journalism. I consider this a personal defamatory attack as well as an attempt to silence academic freedom and people everywhere. Most importantly, as an investigation is now underway, I would ask the community not to assume I am the author of some or all of those comments.

Benton replied in a statement that “no one was doxxed.” This is laughable considering it’s uttered from a man whose professional career is devoted to understanding “online journalism.” For example, here’s the Harvard journalism expert commenting on the industry in 2012.

While none of Viola’s personal information was released, Benton’s actions fit within the very essence of “doxxing,” which involves successful attempts “to tie an anonymous online profile to the true identity of the person behind it and then publicly reveal that person’s real name.”

Viola established her “truthseeker” identity to post comments anonymously and with the belief that webmasters would respect her privacy. Benton exposed her, and the content of his “Tweets” suggest that he did so with great relish.

“I was shocked to see that these comments…were coming from a journalism professor, posting with her Temple email address,” Benton declared in a missive to Temple’s student newspaper.

Everyone is entitled to their political opinions, but I think students and staff should be able to know when someone charged with teaching young people journalism holds these sorts of fringe and debunked views.

In other words, Benton is seeking to convince Viola’s colleagues and students that she is a “conspiracy theorist.” The Harvard staffer’s bio indicates that “he has reported from 10 foreign countries,” suggesting a possible intelligence background.

While it’s improbable that even a reporter with numerous accolades will move in a straight line from the Dallas Morning News to Harvard, Benton has no doubt executed the Agency’s 1035-960 technique against Viola with aplomb.

Viola’s boss, David Boardman, whose Twitter handle Benton included in his Viola Tweetstorm, oversees both Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.

“Professor Viola has admitted to writing some but not all of these posts and specifically denies writing the post that is derogatory of Muslim protesters, a comment we find particularly abhorrent,” Boardman remarked in a public statement. “We are troubled by the content of some of the other cited posts but acknowledge that those in the Temple community are entitled to exercise free speech within constitutional parameters.”

Boardman refers to an anti-Muslim comment from “truthseeker” below, which may very well make the author a prime candidate for an officer’s spot in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Recognizing the violation of Viola’s privacy, on May 9 Benton issued an apology of sorts via Twitter for his failure to “adhere to rigorous reporting standards.”

Yet Benton’s actions overall really have nothing to do with journalism or adhering to any set of standards. The Harvard journalism expert saw red when he encountered political views that he didn’t agree with and turned to what are effectively methods of online intimidation (“bullying”) by threatening the individual’s livelihood.

The fear of being called a “conspiracy theorist” or the equivalent has, after all, been the main technique used to keep academics, journalists, and other salaried intellectuals in line for the past half-century.

 

 

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South Florida Cop Suspended for Facebook Posts may be Sanest Cop in America

Editor’s Note: As of this writing North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell remains suspended with pay pending an internal investigation centering on his social media activity. Harrell’s case is similar to that of James Tracy in that his employer has taken issue with the policeman’s extracurricular commentary on the American police state and mass casualty events principally because of its content.

Now Florida public employers within the purview of the Southern District of Florida may very well be using the TracyvFAU decision as precedent to discipline workers based on speech-related “thought crime” offenses. There is no dispute that such employers and their legal advisors are aware of the court’s decision, and that the State of Florida fought vigorously to establish such a legal precedent. Please see our previous discussion of Officer Harrell’s situation here.

Carlos Miller
TheMaven.net
(May 6, 2018)

A South Florida cop suspended for comments he made on his personal Facebook page explains his views in detail.

The media had a field day mocking North Miami Beach police officer Ericson Harrell last month for suggesting on his personal Facebook page that the victims of the Parkland school shooting were “paid actors.”

The media attention resulted in Harrell placed on paid suspension while his agency “investigates” his comments.

But it’s been more than a month now and the only thing to investigate is whether or not Harrell made those comments while on duty, which may be a violation of department policy.

After all, Harrell never made those comments in his capacity as a police officer.

Instead, he made them on his personal Facebook page to his friends and followers, whom he says consists more of police accountability activists than police officers, including myself, who met him in person years ago.

In fact, he makes no mention of being a police officer on the About section of his Facebook page, not that he makes it a secret either as he frequently speaks out against police abuse on his page.

That being said, I believe some of his views about mass school shootings are far-fetched and irrational; based more on speculation than substance; a conspiracy-laden dogma arising from a complete lack of trust in the government.

But I also believe he is one of the sanest cops in the United States, which may help you understand my view of cops in this country.

This, after all, is a cop who is fully aware of the growing police state in this country, especially for those who stand up for their Constitutional rights; a cop who runs a YouTube channel called “The Penitent Cop” where he tries to educate people about their rights when dealing with police.

But I’ve been told my views are also radical, so I am posting the entire interview above to allow you to judge for yourself. Please let us know what you think in the comments section.

Joining us in the interview was First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza, a longtime PINAC reader who also asked Harrell some questions.

From left to right, Marc Randazza, Carlos Miller and Ericson Harrell

Harrell, a 19-year veteran of the North Miami Beach Police Department, said he had a red pill awakening a few years ago while looking into the conspiracy theories behind 9/11.

That led him to question the government about everything, especially about mass shootings, many which he describes as being hoaxes, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Las Vegas massacre.

And while it’s understandable such comments may offend the family and friends of the victims slain in those shootings, it’s not like he tagged them in his post.

As mentioned before, the only thing his department can discipline him for is if he was making those posts during work hours, which he says he does not remember if he did or not.

But even if he did make those comments during work hours, that is much more preferable to me as a taxpaying citizen than having him spend those hours destroying the lives of innocent citizens, which takes place daily in cities throughout the United States.

But then again, I am considered a radical for my views, so maybe I’m failing to see what the big deal is here.

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