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Political Blogger Predicts Court Loss for Melania Trump
Melania Trump Continues Her Defamation Lawsuits Despite Apologies
A Maryland political blogger is predicting Melania Trump will lose her defamation lawsuit against him after he accused her of having worked as a professional escort in the 1990s.
Melania Trump, wife of presidential candidate Donald Trump, filed the lawsuit in Montgomery County (Maryland) Circuit Court. It seeks $150 million in damages against Webster Tarplay and the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, according to a report by The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net).
Tarplay said on his website that Trump was suffering a mental breakdown because she feared that her wealthy escort clients from the 1990s would say something to embarrass her during her husband’s presidential campaign.
Tarplay and the Daily Mail later retracted their stories but Trump says the damage is done after the allegations were repeated by news organizations worldwide. Her lawyer said the allegations represented false and tremendously damaging rumors.
Tarplay issued a statement saying Trump was wasting her time if she continues with the lawsuit.
Melania Trump’s lawsuit against me is without merit, Tarplay said. Mrs. Trump is a public figure actively engaged in the Trump for president campaign. We are confident that Mrs. Trump will not be able to meet her high burden of proving the statements published about her on my website were defamatory in any way. Her lawsuit is a blatant attempt to intimidate not only me but journalists of all stripes into remaining silent with regard to public figures. This lawsuit is a direct affront to First Amendment principles and free speech in our democratic society.
The lawsuit appears to depend on the court’s interpretation of actual malice, which means journalists knew, or should have known, something they published was false.
The actual malice standard began shielding journalists from inaccuracies with the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. The ruling resulted from a lawsuit by an Alabama city commissioner who was accused in a newspaper article of racist behavior toward black civil rights activists.
An all-white jury granted the city commissioner a $500,000 judgment but the Supreme Court overturned it.
Justice William Brennan wrote for the Court that journalistic errors were inevitable in free debate.
A higher priority is a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials, Brennan wrote.
As a result, the First and Fourteenth Amendments require proof of actual malice for libel lawsuits by high-profile figures to succeed.
The Sullivan case focused on elected officials but later Supreme Court cases expanded the actual malice standard to a variety of public figures, which could include Melania Trump.