Jeffrey Standen


The tort of defamation evolved in an era where defamatory speech was published in books, magazines, newspapers, or other printed documents. The doctrines that are antecedent to the tort, such as publication, fault, defamation per se, presumed damages, and republication liability, similarly presumed that most defamation would appear in written form in a published work. Similarly, the significant limitations on defamation liability that were produced by a succession of Supreme Court constitutional precedent, including restrictions on prior restraint, heightened fault standards, expanded “public” classes, the “fact/opinion” dichotomy, and the “truth/substantial truth” burden shifting, also were based on a publishing world in which defamatory statements would most likely appear in traditional printed form.