Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Re: Replicas, not forgeries

Maybe all you prospective lawyers out there can answer this. What legal recourse does the Bush campaign have? If they sincerely believe (obviously, everyone in America besides Dan Rather believes it now too) that the documents are fake, is there a legal avenue for them to pursue? I'm also not talking whether it would be politically wise or not, I'm just wondering if they are able to file a civil suit. Or do they file a complaint with the FCC?

I have no idea. We didn't touch on this matter in chemistry this morning.


At 6:11 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

Short answer: if the memos are forgeries (which they are), and CBS knew they were or acted in reckless disregard of the truth -- meaning, they knew there was high probability they were fake -- then Bush can sue and win.

The other elements -- whether there was broadcast to a third party, and whether there was damage resulting from tarnished reputation in the eyes of relevant persons -- are obviously met.

(this is from memory of first semester Torts, so it may be a little off...)

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

Follow up:

Also, because Bush is a public figure, I believe he would have to show that CBS acted with actual malice.

One other thing: as always, truth is an absolute defense to charges of defamation. Well, if the memos express "true" thoughts, even if they are fake, this raises an interesting legal issue (I think): can Bush show actual damage from CBS' use of the forged documents if it turns out that the information contained in those documents can be basically proved through other sources? I don't know.


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