House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, said Friday he supports Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to revisit a U.S. Supreme Court decision that has helped protect media companies from defamation lawsuits.
The 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case known as New York Times Co. v. Sullivan held that the First Amendment limits public officials’ ability to sue for defamation.
DeSantis said earlier this month, at a hosted roundtable, he thinks the case should be revisited, a position that Renner echoed Friday during a news conference at the Capitol.
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“We’ve seen over the last generation legacy media outlets increasingly divorce themselves from the truth and instead try to elevate preferred narratives and partisan activism over reporting the facts,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “When the media attacks me, I have a platform to fight back. When they attack everyday citizens, these individuals don’t have the adequate recourses to fight back. In Florida, we want to stand up for the little guy against these massive media conglomerates.”
“I think the governor’s right. It’s time to test that law, you know the New York Times v. Sullivan,” Renner, an attorney, said. “And if a reporter is hiding behind an anonymous source that may not be a real person, may not be a real source, and putting out what we’ve come to know as fake news, then there needs to be some liability for that.”
Related: Florida Gov. DeSantis Hosts Roundtable On Media Defamation, Seeks Legislative Action
Renner’s comments also came three days after Rep. Alex Andrade, R-Pensacola, filed a potentially far-reaching bill (HB 991) that would make changes in state defamation laws.
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