Public figures are fighting back against fake news.
In the most recent headline from the world of celebrity defamation cases, E. Jean Carroll is suing former President Trump for statements he made after she accused him of sexual assault. In a 2019 book and excerpt in New York magazine, Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, accused Trump of sexual assault in the mid-1990s. Trump responded that Carroll was “totally lying” and not his “type.” Carroll sued Trump for defamation, claiming his statements had harmed her reputation. But Carroll—like all public figure defamation plaintiffs—has an uphill battle before her. To succeed, Carroll will have to prove that Trump’s statements were false, and—because Carroll is a public figure—she will also have to show that Trump acted with “actual malice.” The actual malice standard often proves to be too high a threshold for most public figures to cross, and most cases are lost on that prong—regardless of whether the statement was false. In fact, Johnny Depp was one of the few public figures in recent years to win a defamation suit.