2. It's not opinion when they allege a specific act.
Ok the fight is ongoing ...... I remembered the claim, not the correct outcome.
<p>In a New York Supreme Court last November, the conservative website Project Veritas launched its defamation suit against the New York Times in much the same way that Veritas’s founder, James O’Keefe, launches his viral videos—with a fusillade of accusations. Among the many allegations listed...
The Times is being sued because of how it characterized two Veritas videos, which ran last September and alleged voter fraud in Minneapolis. Astor’s story, as quoted in the suit, called a Veritas video “deceptive” and said O’Keefe and his colleagues have “a long history of releasing manipulated or selectively edited footage.” Astor noted that Veritas released its first video just hours after a big Times scoop about Donald Trump’s tax returns, and she quoted an academic research group saying that a series of Veritas-promoting tweets by Trump and others resembled “a coordinated disinformation campaign.”
The Times, in its response to the lawsuit, argued that Astor and another defendant, reporter Tiffany Hsu, were either telling readers the truth or were putting “unverifiable expressions of opinion” into their news stories.
That last bit is a handy term among media lawyers, the idea being that since most opinions can’t be proved true or false, they can’t serve as the basis of a defamation suit. As Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha told me, “the term ‘opinion’ has a special meaning in defamation law, one that differs from the common understanding of the term,” adding that it refers to “descriptive statements [that] help readers understand the significance of the news.” In that sense, you could say that the Times is portraying “opinion” as something closer to analysis or color—like when a sportswriter says a ballgame was played on a “beautiful” day rather than reporting it was 74 degrees, or describes the shortstop as “clumsy” instead of noting he made three errors.
If that was the distinction, it was lost on the justice in the case, Charles D. Wood, who was elected to a fourteen-year term as a Republican in 2009. Wood noted Veritas’s argument that “a reasonable reader would expect a news reporter’s statements to be assertions of fact and not opinion.” He added, “If a writer interjects an opinion in a news article (and will seek to claim legal protections as opinion) it stands to reason that the writer should have an obligation to alert the reader.”
By framing his decision that way, Wood highlighted the key irony of the case: a court is pointing to Project Veritas as a possible victim of unethical journalistic conduct. Meanwhile, the New York Times must counter the blowback that comes from arguing that its reporters put “opinion,” however it’s defined, into its news stories.