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The Final Word on CBS and “The Reagans”
11-13-03 | jmstein7

Posted on 11/13/2003 12:35:45 PM PST by jmstein7

The Supreme Court has explicitly held that, “[There is] no constitutional value in false statements of fact.”  Further, false statements “belong to that category of utterances which []are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.”

 

False statements, i.e. the core of defamation, are not protected by the First Amendment. 

 

There is no question that “The Reagans” is a defamatory piece.   The script is out there for all to see; the CBS mini-series is full of defamatory material.  The screenwriter, Elizabeth Egloff, admits that most of the script is made-up, a work of pure fiction – although CBS did not advertise the series as fiction or fantasy.  In fact, a reasonable view would assume that CBS was reporting historical events.  CBS knew that the words Ms. Egloff put in Mr. Reagan’s mouth are mostly fabricated and false.  CBS would not have been protected by the First Amendment. 

 

Hit pieces like “The Reagans” have no value, and they are not considered speech that is protected by the First Amendment.  As the Supreme Court held in Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact.  Therefore, there is no argument that “The Reagans” is an expression protected by the first Amendment.  In fact, it is defamation and therefore unlawful under California Civil Code sections 44 and 45a.

 

The argument that speech is being chilled by CBS pulling the series is equally absurd.  In Grayned v. City of Rockford, the Supreme Court held that there is no impermissible “chilling” of speech if the law gives those of “ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what [conduct] is prohibited.”  Here it is very clear what the law prohibits – defamation.  I’m sure that Les Moonves, and other decision makers at CBS, understand that the law prohibits defamation.  Therefore, since there is no confusion over what exactly the law prohibits – it is very clear – there is no impermissible chilling effect on speech.  Thus, the argument that pulling “The Reagans” chills speech is utter nonsense.

 

“The Reagans” defames both Ronald and Nancy Reagan by falsely misrepresenting their words and conduct.  Under in California, and every other state, defamation is unlawful.  Defamation is not speech that is protected by the First Amendment.  Further, as people of ordinary intelligence understand that defamation is unlawful and unprotected, proscribing or disavowing defamatory material does not and can not chill speech.  Therefore, “The Reagans” is not speech that is protected by the First Amendment, and canceling that series does not create an impermissible chilling effect.

 

There simply is no valid argument to the contrary.  Of course, we know what the left-wingers are really upset about – they have been denied the opportunity to smear Ronald Reagan on national television. 


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: California; US: New York
KEYWORDS: ca; cbs; ccrm; editorial; elections; news; ny; presstitutes; thereagans

1 posted on 11/13/2003 12:35:46 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: jmstein7
CBS...

2 posted on 11/13/2003 12:37:10 PM PST by tomakaze (Todays "useful idiot" is tomorrows "useless eater")
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To: MeeknMing; *CCRM; *Presstitutes; SerpentDove; autoresponder; yall
PING!
3 posted on 11/13/2003 12:38:57 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: MeeknMing; *CCRM; *Presstitutes; SerpentDove; autoresponder; yall; Interesting Times; diotima
PING!
4 posted on 11/13/2003 12:39:28 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: jmstein7
read later
5 posted on 11/13/2003 12:42:58 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: jmstein7
Elizabeth Egloff, admits that most of the script is made-up, a work of pure fiction – although CBS did not advertise the series as fiction or fantasy.

Writers are notoriously lazy and television writers are the laziest of all. This is especially true when it comes to doing research. I half wonder if this particular writer fantasized a Reagan hit piece less out of ideology and more because she was too lazy to do real research.

"What shall I do today? Stay home, or go to the library and check out some books on Reagan so that my script will be accurate? Well, if I go to the library, I won't be able to snort cocaine . . . . "

6 posted on 11/13/2003 12:44:13 PM PST by JoeSchem (And yes, Rush did go downhill because of the Oxycontin. Thank God he's off!)
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To: JoeSchem
Yes, but don't forget.. intent doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter if the writer INTENDS the work to be defamatory; it only matters that the work IS defamatory.

That is an important distinction.
7 posted on 11/13/2003 12:46:15 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: Mich0127
Con Law PING!
8 posted on 11/13/2003 12:47:02 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: Alamo-Girl; onyx; SpookBrat; Republican Wildcat; Howlin; dixiechick2000; SusanUSA
PING!
9 posted on 11/13/2003 12:48:12 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: jmstein7
Is the above your research ? If so, thank you and thanks for posting.
10 posted on 11/13/2003 12:50:18 PM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: jmstein7
Malice aforethought must be proven, and the contentions of the left with CBS' blessings that The Reagans is drama rather than documentary are simple legal maneuvering to get around defamation or libel suits.
11 posted on 11/13/2003 12:52:06 PM PST by cake_crumb (UN Resolutions = Very Expensive, Very SCRATCHY Toilet Paper)
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To: jmstein7
Great essay! Kudos to you! Thanks for the heads up!
12 posted on 11/13/2003 12:52:48 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Yup; its my own research.
13 posted on 11/13/2003 12:53:01 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: jmstein7
So, will it still appear on Showtime?
14 posted on 11/13/2003 12:55:42 PM PST by Ditter
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To: cake_crumb
Malice is demonstrable here; read the other article I wrote on that very subject.
15 posted on 11/13/2003 12:55:46 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: jmstein7
How does defamation substantively differ from slander?
16 posted on 11/13/2003 12:56:50 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to manage by politics.)
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To: Carry_Okie
Slander is a type of defamation; read the other article I wrote on that very subject.
17 posted on 11/13/2003 12:57:56 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: cake_crumb
If it's a drama you have a character named "President Keegan" who looks a lot like The Best President This Country Has Ever Had and you have pretty much free rein. If you are a lib you can make him as vile as you wish with no problems. People recognize that it isn't intended to be factual. When you call it a documentary and use real people's names there is a whole different standard. People expect it to be reasonably truthful.

I don't see how we really "won" on this one, however. It will still show on Showtime, and will then be on USA network or those other second or third tier channels over and over for the next many years. I know I'll hear some idiot at a party talking about how "Reagan said those AIDS guys deserved to die" because he saw it on TV.
18 posted on 11/13/2003 1:05:28 PM PST by JayNorth
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To: jmstein7
Thank you. That clears it up for me considerably.
19 posted on 11/13/2003 1:07:44 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to manage by politics.)
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To: jmstein7


CBS will not broadcast THE REAGANS
on November 16 and 18. This decision
is based solely on our reaction to
seeing the final film, not the controversy
that erupted around a draft of the script.

20 posted on 11/13/2003 1:19:40 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (Will work for tagline)
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To: jmstein7
Very nice analysis, thanks. Perhaps some communication was made to Moonves along these lines either from someone representing the Reagans or simply from his own risk management people? We'll probably never know.
21 posted on 11/13/2003 1:19:45 PM PST by KellyAdmirer
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To: JayNorth
I think that the piece of garbage that CBS produced could more rightly be termed a mockumentary.
22 posted on 11/13/2003 1:25:58 PM PST by Eva
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To: jmstein7
Excellent! Thanks for the ping.
23 posted on 11/13/2003 4:10:23 PM PST by onyx
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To: jmstein7
Thanks for the ping. It was good reading.
24 posted on 11/13/2003 5:08:18 PM PST by SpookBrat (Proud voter for the uncompassionate, intolerant, fear provoking, polluting, mean spirited party.)
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To: onyx
Cool! Thanks!

Onyx... do you have a high-volume ping list? I think this is about to fll off the "Editorial" sidebar.

Thanks!
25 posted on 11/13/2003 6:35:07 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: onyx
Plus, this is pretty good research ammo for anyone who wants to debate the issue.
26 posted on 11/13/2003 6:36:44 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: jmstein7
Its very difficult for a public figure to prevail even when a story is reckless and defamatory. The bar for libel and slander is deliberately set higher for those in public life so as not to squelch free expression. And that's why we'll have pieces like The Reagans that are far from being totally truthful. In a free society, we'd never want powerful people immune from criticism. What's then the best defense against smears and lies? The truth, which is what liars and scoundrels flee from.
27 posted on 11/13/2003 6:56:18 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: goldstategop
Agreed.

My point was, the libs keep running around screaming "First Amendment, FIRST AMENDMENT!" and "Conservatives are chilling speech!". I think the above shows -- even though I didn't go into as much depth as I could have -- that these hysterical rants are nonsensical and unsupported.
28 posted on 11/13/2003 7:04:39 PM PST by jmstein7
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To: JoeSchem
Since this group went out of its way NOT to interview any of the Reagan family members or associates, I believe it was predetermined to be a "hit" piece.

And .. you'll never convince me that Ms. Blabs didn't have a great deal to do with the script!
29 posted on 11/13/2003 8:40:09 PM PST by CyberAnt (America .. the LIGHT of the World)
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To: jmstein7
Here you go again, JM, stirring things up....
Thank you ;)
30 posted on 11/13/2003 8:41:17 PM PST by Libertina
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To: jmstein7

31 posted on 11/14/2003 10:03:01 AM PST by AgThorn (Go go Bush!!)
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To: Libertina
BUMP! :)
32 posted on 11/16/2003 1:15:52 AM PST by jmstein7
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To: Libertina
BUMP! :)
33 posted on 11/16/2003 1:16:07 AM PST by jmstein7
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To: JoeSchem
Writers are notoriously lazy and television writers are the laziest of all. This is especially true when it comes to doing research. I half wonder if this particular writer fantasized a Reagan hit piece less out of ideology and more because she was too lazy to do real research.

As far as I know, Egloff has done no writing for television before The Reagans other than spending eight months as a staff writer for the soap opera Search For Tomorrow (which I always said in response, "Wait until midnight, it'll just pop up.") That bit of information came from the alumni section of the Brown University website, which gives an insight into the politics of the education she received.

34 posted on 11/16/2003 1:37:27 AM PST by L.N. Smithee (Just because I don't think like you doesn't mean I don't think for myself)
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