Capitol Coverage: Fake news lawsuit not moving forward

The publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel says he will not sue a state lawmaker over claims that the newspaper peddles fake news stories. Bente Birkeland has more.



Publisher Jay Seaton still stands by his claim that Republican State Senator Ray Scott defamed the newspaper and tried to delegitimize a credible news organization after Scott tweeted the paper was fake news. Had the lawsuit gone forward – it would have been the first of its kind, and could have set a legal definition for the term fake news. But Seaton says he worried the case would be difficult to win. And he says the meaning is changing.

It may actually be transforming right before our eyes into a general pejorative, which is the best defense to this kind of a case because then it’s just opinion, and opinion criticism is absolutely protected.


Another factor was that legislative attorneys could provide Scott’s defense. Scott could also claim legislative immunity, which could have dragged out the case for several years. Seaton says he didn’t want to tie up the courts, and make taxpayers foot the bill.