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Eddie Johnson sues the Chicago Tribune, others, for defamation

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JonathanG, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    If memory serves, McGrath wrote in the article that someone on the desk messed up.
  2. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    The public figure defense won't mean beans in this case. It'll all come down to the malice part.

    I don't know how long Skippy's little rant was before he pulled back. But I'd guess the Tribune will try to settle this one quietly out of court. I love the attorney's quote: "We plan to defend ourselves fully." Duh.
  3. oldhack

    oldhack Member

    If you're an editor or a reporter, Big Dog, I don't think that's a sword you want to live by.

    Some states, although I don't think Illinois, have a retraction statute, which means that if you make a mistake and promptly retract it, a libel plaintiff can't be awarded punitive damages, which is where the bucks are. It recognizes that we are human and that we make inadvertant mistakes.

    Johnson's probably a public figure, but I doubt he could meet the actual malace standard, barring evidence of some bizarre plot on the part of a late-shift Tribune copy editor.

    Still, there is a potential interesting angle here: Are Johnson's lawyers going to claim a kind of ripple effect, that while the Trib made an innocent error, it can be held responsible for the consequences when Bayless read the story and then gave it national distribution on Rome's radio show?
  4. Write the check, Trib. Now.
    You do not want discovery on this one.
    "Why were you in such a hurry that you couldn't check? Were there corporate pressures that factored into your decision? Can you produce documents to illustrate them?"
  5. Columbo

    Columbo Active Member

    I think that he has a case in the sense that he will DEFINITELY get a check from Tribune.

    More importantly, though, he reiterates the separation of his name from this ass in Florida through a legal document.
  6. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    Not that he needs the money, but somebody is about to get paid!
  7. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    Why is the debate here whether he'll win the case?
    We're journalists. We're not lawyers. (OK, most of us aren't. Sorry, Webster.) Shouldn't we be as bothered by a mistake of this sort as we are when somebody plagiarizes? This was a pretty heavyweight mistake. It also shows the value of having people who know sports working in sports. Anybody who knew the NBA of that era knew there were two Eddie Johnsons -- and which of them was likely involved here.
  8. oldhack

    oldhack Member

    You mean that people who "know sports" are exempt from making mistakes?

    If I were Johnson's lawyer, I'd love to get you on the stand, Twoback.

    "So you wrote that it was my client because you concluded, on the basis of your vast experience, which Eddie Johnson was 'likely involved?'"

    Game, set, match.
  9. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    It was a dumb ass mistake the Trib made, that much is true, and Twoback makes a great point about having knowledgable sports people working in sports, I know when one of our less-knowledgable sports people on our universal desk has to do sports, I prepare and coach the shit out of them, and still hold my breath, especially since it invariably happens on my day off.

    But a mistake isn't grounds for winning a libel suit. Johnson will be hard-pressed to produce actual malice.

    But if by some chance he does win, then we should be just as concerned about that as we are about policing ourselves for these mistakes, because if a mistake is grounds for libel that opens a Pandora's box.

    Perfection is a great standard to set ourselves by, but it's impossible to pull off, and if we have to be perfect to protect ourselves legally, that's an unwinnable battle.
  10. BigDog

    BigDog Active Member

    Pay the man, Shirley. [/norm chad]
  11. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    Yeah, you kinda missed the point on that one.
    If you knew the NBA of that era and were on that desk, you'd have not it WAS NOT this Eddie Johnson who was involved.
    Try to keep up.
  12. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    No one is calling for perfection. But there should be some basic level of fact-checking at the copy editing level. Instead, it's been replaced with, well, you know.
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