Saturday, February 06, 2021

Libel lawsuits and the truth in the Post-Trump era

So! Been a while since there's been substantive posting around here. I had a half-started post going about how to properly rage-donate when January 6 rolled around, and it felt inadequate. Haven't quite figured out how to react to tragedy and recovery in the meantime.

And then, today's article about Fox Business firing their most-popular commentator, Lou Dobbs, got me thinking a bit. I agree with the speculation that libel lawsuits piling up against Fox played a role in getting rid of Dobbs, although the exact mechanism is less clear. Assuming a jury finds that Dobbs and Fox committed libel up to Jan. 20, firing Dobbs afterwards does not undo the damage. 

Two reasons might come into play though: first, Dobbs may have refused to recant or even told Fox he'd continue the libel, and 2. the fear of punitive damages might have led Fox to dump Dobbs to reduce the belief that Fox needed extra punishment to learn its lesson.

All the above isn't about climate, although it's unsurprising to find Dobbs to be a climate denier (if an inconsistent one). Getting someone who lies off the air is good in general, and it's good for climate policy in this case as well.

I've had a lingering hesitation about libel lawsuits on public policy, including the ones over climate change, and just wish the truth didn't need to go to court to overcome lies. If the lies are loud enough though, then that seems necessary, and the climate libel lawsuits may have had some benefits in reducing the scale of exposure for climate denial. Now that we have a president who unlike the previous one has caught up to the state of science in 1896 and afterwards. Young conservatives are increasingly likely to believe in climate reality, although whether they'll vote for climate isn't yet clear.

I see an analogy between libel and the Democrats tossing that idiot Marjorie Taylor Greene off of the House committees. There's a harm found in the majority party interfering in the assignments made by the minority party. There's even more harm to not interfering. 

Maybe sometime we can get to the state of play where we don't need to take these actions. Meanwhile, I'm glad these people committing libel are getting sued.


One last thought: the article on Dobbs said he founded, which is a great place for space enthusiasts. It's just too bad when people like Dobbs, Singer, and Lindzen ruin a pretty good career by going Big Evil at the end.

UPDATE: a timely piece from Inside Climate on the latest about Michael Mann's lawsuit against climate deniers who defamed him.