David Carr has a thorough piece about a blogger named Crystal Cox, who was on the receiving end of a $2.5 million defamation judgment where the judge ruled that she wasn’t a journalist. Cox created an interlinked group of websites to attack attorney Kevin Padrick, who was a trustee in a property firm bankruptcy.
Carr does a good job running through the lies that Cox told, but it’s also worth noting two other facets in the ruling that Reuters mentions:
“Based on the evidence presented at the time of trial, I conclude that plaintiffs are not public figures, defendant is not ‘media’ and the statements at issue were not made on an issue of public concern,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “Thus, there are not First Amendment implications.”
When I first saw the headlines on this story I was concerned, because subjects of blog posts sometimes trot out the word “defamation” if they don’t like what we write about them. After reading Carr’s piece and the judge’s comment that Padrick wasn’t a public figure and didn’t do anything of public concern, I’m less worried that some noisemaker can extract a judgment from bloggers commenting on politics and who have at least a nodding acquaintance with the truth.