Above Wyclef Jean and The President of Yele explains the issues brought up by The Smoking Gun. It appears that Yele is in a partnership with Wyclef Jean, and it is not Jean’s foundation.
Now instead of Jean moving dead bodies of his fellow countrymen clearing a path for the distribution of food and water and medical supplies, he was in New York to address something that may have been cleared up by a telephone call.
The media is suppose to keep the public aware of the good the bad and the ugly, but they must do so without malice.
In a legal sense, “actual malice” has nothing to do with ill will or disliking someone and wishing them harm. Rather, the courts have defined “actual malice” in the defamation context as publishing a statement while either knowing that it is false; or acting with reckless disregard for the statement’s truth or falsity.
It should be noted that the actual malice standard focuses on the defendant’s actual state of mind at the time of publication.
The actual malice standard is not measured by what a reasonable person would have published or investigated prior to publication.
Instead, it must be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the publisher actually knew the information was false or entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication. In making this determination, a court will look for evidence of the publisher’s state of mind at the time of publication and will likely examine the steps the publisher took in researching, editing, and fact checking the work. It is generally not sufficient, to merely show that the publisher didn’t like the subject of any alleged defamation, failed to contact the individual for comment, knew that the subject had denied the information, relied on a single biased source, or failed to correct the statement after publication.
Although under this standard the Smoking Gun is without malice, it immorally placed a pause on a life saving mission for it’s failure to consider the circumstances in it’s totality. It reported in such a way to infer guilt. In this country we are told that we are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. We don’t seem to hold to that principle, especially when something negative has been reported in the press.
Appropriately named, the smoking gun is just that, a smoking gun. It does not take in account whether there exist a plausible reason such as self defense. Therefore we as readers must be careful in concluding that a homicide has occurred just because there is a smoking gun reported by a media source. We must take all the circumstances in it’s totality. The next question is how do we learn about the other factors if the press does not inform us. In the case of Wyclef Jean and Yele, they had the money to fight back.
This fight was at a cost. Just think of all the good that the organization and Wyclef could have done during that time it took them to respond to the Smoking Gun. Just think of the possible lives that could have been saved had the Smoking Gun had taken a moral stance by going a few steps further in the name of mankind.
To the Smoking Gun I say it shouldn’t always be about the bottom line. Such is impacted by the number of readers which sensation reporting generally produces. There is no doubt that the reporting of Yele’s tax filings created sensationalism.
The publisher of the Smoking Gun will go home tonight to a comfortable home with all the amenities. The people in Haiti will not. They will continue to suffer physically and emotionally as a result of the devastating earthquake.
Therefore in the future maybe we all should take the allegations made by the Smoking Gun with a grain of salt. If that’s the case, why should we interest ourselves with anything the Smoking Gun reports?
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