Air Force General Counsel Blog The chief legal officer and chief ethics official of the Department of the Air Force


Pandering or Slandering?

The decline of print media has coincided with a rapid expansion of online journalism, which, some would say, has created new questions regarding the limits of the freedom of expression. In a world where the news cycle never ends, blogging, in particular, has emerged as one of the preferred news platforms in this new age. But, given the low barrier to entry into the world of blogging, is anyone with a website now a potential journalist? Where should the line be drawn?

Federal courts are now being asked to weigh-in on these questions in the well-publicized case of Shirley Sherrod – a former USDA official who was ousted from her position after an edited video was posted on a conservative blog that appeared to capture her making racist remarks during a speech. Later, when the full video came to light, it became clear that her comments had been taken out of context. She has since filed a civil suit for defamation against those she claims are responsible for posting the video and the case is now making its way through the courts.

You can read more about Ms. Sherrod’s case, and some of its potential implications, here.

John G. Mardiat
Law Clerk, Dispute Resolution