The National Enquirer is in the news rather than reporting it—not for printing that Elvis is alive and well, but for its alleged role as “a dirty-tricks shop for Donald J. Trump in 2016,” as The New York Times put it in an article that described the supermarket tabloid as “the most powerful print publication in America.” The Enquirer served as a propaganda rag for The Donald, first targeting Ted Cruz during the primaries and then amplifying anti-Hillary conspiracy theories like “PizzaGate,” the ridiculous stories that candidate Clinton was sleeping with Huma Abedin and that she had hired a “hitman” to murder people who annoyed her.
It paid $150,000 for the story of a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with our current president—so they could bury it. (They call this a “catch-and-kill” deal.)
Even for the pond-scum standards of the National Enquirer, this is super sleazy. Mainstream media outlets like the Times are pointing out how gross and yucky the Enquirer is and they’re right to do so.
What these august guardians of the Fourth Estate are not as eager to talk about is how, when it comes to a little-known law with a massive effect on libel and defamation law, respectable print institutions like the New York Times are on the same side as such exemplars of yellow journalism as the National Enquirer.
Twenty-eight states—including many of the most populous—have “anti-SLAPP” laws ostensibly designed to protect newspapers, radio and television outlets from being sued for libel or defamation.
Their real purpose is to allow the media to get away with murder.
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