Joy Reid Loses To La Liberte: MSNBC Host Creates New Precedent Binding Media

MSNBC’s Joy Reid has two notable developments this week. She was named as the new nightly anchor to replace Chris Matthews and was lost a major appeal in a defamation lawsuit tied to her prior position.  Reid has a history of controversial statement including her insistence that her posts on her blog with homophobic comments were fabricated by hackers.  She later apologized for the postings that she claimed that she made. She acknowledged “I can definitely understand, based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past, why some people don’t believe me.”  She was sued in one of the most notorious postings on social media by Roslyn La Liberte, a Trump supporter, who was trashed by Reid for comments that she never made and an account that proved to be untrue.  Reid relied on California’s Anti-Slapp statute and immunity arguments to try to force La Liberte out of court, even though she again later apologized. Now the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has handed down a major ruling against Reid that could undermine future defenses by media figures.

Reid retweeted this image of La Liberte in the MAGA hat from a city council meeting in California during debate over SB 54, a law limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities.  Reid first retweeted the image with the  caption, “You are going to be the first deported.” Then, in a second post on Instagram, she wrote that the woman in the photo had screamed “You are going to be the first deported … dirty Mexican!” In additional postings on Instagram and Facebook, Reid said “Make the picture black and white and it could be the 1950s and the desegregation of a school. Hate is real, y’all. It hasn’t even really gone away.”

The problem is that the image was false as was the account.  La Liberte is the daughter of immigrants and was described as trying to calm the situation down.  The 14-year-old at the center of the controversy was shown hugging La Liberte after their exchange. As stated in a federal complaint,  the misleading caption and posting to Reid’s1.24 million followers was a classic defamation action.  The complaint states:

“An interview of the young man confirming that La Liberte did not utter any racial slurs and was otherwise civil to him. He states, among other things, that he “felt like [La Liberte] was still trying to keep it civil which I appreciate”; “she was being civil”; and “[s]he doesn’t deserve it because she was giving her opinion at a place where everyone should be able to say their peace.”

Two days after posting her comments, Reid apologized by saying “It appears I got this wrong. My apologies to Mrs. La Liberte and Joseph.”  The failure to specify what she “got wrong” and the use of “appears” led La Liberte to object that the apology was too little and too late.

Reid’s counsel then however successfully used the California law against La Liberte when she sought a defamation action.  La Liberte was first declared a limited public figure for the purposes of the defamation.  We have previously discussed this status. The status imposes the higher standard first imposed in New York Times v. Sullivan for public officials, requiring a showing of “actual malice” where media had actual knowledge of the falsity of a statement or showed reckless disregard whether it was true or false.

This status determination turns on Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 352 (1974) and its progeny of cases.  The Supreme Court has held that public figure status applies when  someone “thrust[s] himself into the vortex of [the] public issue [and] engage[s] the public’s attention in an attempt to influence its outcome.” A limited-purpose public figure status applies if someone voluntarily “draw[s] attention to himself” or allows himself to become part of a controversy “as a fulcrum to create public discussion.” Wolston v. Reader’s Digest Association, 443 U.S. 157, 168 (1979).

This case shows how easy it is to fall under the higher standard.  Just because she appears in the meeting, the district court found that La Liberte had become a limited public figure.  The Second Circuit disagreed and stated “Thin as the findings are to begin with, the district court did not take into account the requirement that a limited purpose public figure maintain ‘regular and continuing access to the media.'”

It also rejected the use of the California anti-Slapp statute to shift attorney fees to the winner under California’s anti-SLAPP statute.  The Second Circuit ruled that the state anti-SLAPP law was inapplicable in federal court which follows countervailing standards on the necessary showing for cases.  Under federal rules, a plaintiffs must show only a plausibility — not the probability — of prevailing. It also ruled that Reid does not enjoy immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Each of these holding would be a considerable loss but their combination in one case is a devastating loss for media defendants.

Here is the Second Circuit opinion.


86 thoughts on “Joy Reid Loses To La Liberte: MSNBC Host Creates New Precedent Binding Media”

  1. One can NEVER believe a single syllable uttered or written by a regressive liberal socialist including the lie they are democratic.

  2. Commit — Thanks for the suggestion. However this is an older mobile device, not readily upgradable.


        This not Seth Warner. This is a malicious dirty trickster holding the blog hostage. He has no respect for Professor Turley or any of the regular commenters. He is also a constant presence on these threads using countless names.

        1. SW, and Moderator, if there was ever a valid reason to remove this persons url and name from this blog, this is it. DO YOUR JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. guests can post here and type in whatever name they want. very odd feature.

            1. free speech can be odd when you oppose another’s exercise therein

              Seth Warner has shed an ugly light on Shed Warner’s depravity.

              Bravo girlfriend!

          2. Go to twitter, Facebook, messenger, if your a liberals they’ll leave your stuff on. Go to Parler they are not liberal you can get some true stuff

  3. What is a “homophobic comment”? Is that pro queer or anti queer!

  4. Americans see these events and know Joy Reid, the MSM, the Democrats are responsible

    they will be held accountable

      1. Its pretty sad when RT and Al jazeera will cover things ABCCBSNBCCNNMSNBCWaPo & the NYT won’t.

      2. You commented on the source of the video provider rather than the contents of the video. WTF.

      3. Wait. Is that a dangling preposition? It’s been soooooo long since I’ve seen one of those. The experience warms the cockles of my heart. They are a rare breed, don’t you know? Thank you so much.

      4. Some think relying on US Intelligence Agencies is reliable. Look up their failed reports and grotesque negligence.

    1. How about using a trash collection vehicle to round up & throw those rioters into it as the operator pushes the button to move the trash from the open area into the confined trash box?

    2. I doubt they will be held accountable. I mean other than the president, Ted Cruz, and a hand full of other Republican politicians, have you heard Republicans condemn any of the riots, looting, and other attacks that have happened since this all started? No, they are all sitting there silently waiting for Democrats to tell them what to do. It is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen! Also, it is rather sad that the US mainstream media will not cover events but RT will! I thought we were the country of free press, yet none of the mainstream press will say a word!

  5. Opening a legal remedy to one that has been slandered is a good thing.

  6. Legal issues aside, this is awesome advertising for Joy Reid’s upcoming show. She’ll pull a slice of the trump mutant demographic who’ll tune in just to fume.

    1. LOL! Yeah…tons of Trump supporters will go watch Joy Reid! Pfffft! Not too preposterous.

      1. Just like you’re talking about her here. Lol. You guys are just too easy.

        1. Hey Bugs.

          What is this article about?

          You may want to move to the short bus when school starts back.

    2. She won’t be attracting any Trump supporters because we have better things to do. Oh by the way, how’s that “Trump lives inside my head rent free” working out for you?

      1. Does the Guinness book of world records have a record for the person who lives in the most minds in the world rent free? If they do, any ideas on who the recordholder might be?

    3. You mean the sad souls who’ve succumbed to TDS.

      Reid will rot way far south of here. Way far south.

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