DeSantis-backed bill would make it easier to sue news media

American law protects the free speech and press rights of all citizens, including journalists; and the courts are open for all citizens, including the subjects of new stories.

Democracy has flourishes where the press is free. Despotism rises where it is not.

DeSantis is framing this as a defense of the average citizen, but we all know that’s not what’s going on here.

I’m particularly concerned by the attempts to presume any anonymous source is false, and the assumption that reporters and editors should be compelled to divulge the names of sources who agreed to speak anonymously. 

The legislation proposes sweeping changes to Florida’s libel and defamation law. It presumes information from anonymous sources to be false and removes protections that allow journalists to shield the identity of sources if they are sued. It limits the definition of who would qualify as a public figure.

Earlier this month, DeSantis called for the Legislature to act on what he calls “legacy media defamation practices.”

The governor has clashed with the media during his tenure, accusing outlets of unfair coverage of his policies, which his critics have derided as divisive. He claimed the changes in the law were not meant for him, however.

“We’ve seen over the last generation legacy media outlets increasingly divorce themselves from the truth and instead try to elevate preferred narratives and partisan activism over reporting the facts,” DeSantis said. “When the media attacks me, I have a platform to fight back. When they attack everyday citizens, these individuals don’t have the adequate recourses to fight back. In Florida, we want to stand up for the little guy against these massive media conglomerates.” —MSN.con



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