In our last post, we looked briefly at the conclusion of a defamation case involving Rolling Stone and one of its writers. As we noted, the case is interesting not only because of the subject of the reporting, but also because of the recent discussion about “fake news” since the election. The term has been used on both sides of the political aisle to call out inaccuracies, biases, false narratives and flat out lies that have emerged in journalistic reporting.
Much of the discussion surrounding fake news has been directed at alternative news sources on the Internet, though certainly not exclusively—mainstream media has been called out as well. Right now, Congress is working on two bills, H.R. 5181 and H.R. 6393, aimed at preventing the spread of “fake news.” It remains to be seen how these efforts will play out.
Looking at the matter of “fake news” less from a political standpoint and more from a business standpoint, it is certainly true that false or misleading reporting can at times impact business interests. When this happens, it is important for the negatively affected business to understand its legal options and to work with an experienced attorney to seek appropriate remedies in court.
One possibility for businesses which have been harmed by defamatory published statements is, of course, so sue for libel. Other possibilities, which are dependent on state law, include suing for violation of fair trade and fair competition laws or for interfering with prospective contractual relations or economic advantage.
The point here is that businesses should consult with an experienced attorney to explore their options when they’ve been harmed by false or misleading reporting. An experienced attorney can help determine the best avenue for recovery and can ensure the business’ interests receive zealous advocacy.