If you watch the headlines on left like "Fox News Lawyers Up," you would think that Fox News is worried about a lawsuit filed against it over its COVID-19 coverage. The reality is somewhat different than left wing news and conspiracy websites suggest. As former Fox News host Megyn Kelly tweeted:
Anyone filing such a lawsuit would be laughed out of court and likely sanctioned by the court for filing a frivolous lawsuit. But, whatever you need to tell yourself to stay occupied during quarantine... https://t.co/c87n1bZSVG— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) March 30, 2020
Even former MSNBC legal analyst Dan Abrams writes on the likelihood of success for the plaintiffs:
Such a win would be difficult. As one reporter following this situation summed up:
The First Amendment, in its blessed breadth, gives you pretty wide latitude to be a public health menace.— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) March 29, 2020
Menacing accusations aside, the legal point should be taken: the First Amendment is a powerful thing, even in tort law.
A thoughtful analysis is provided Professor Eugene Volokh over at Volokh Conspiracy:
The Complaint unfortunately doesn't offer much details about exactly what statements it claims misrepresent matters. It does refer to Trish Regan's March 9 statement, but I watched it and it seems to express her opinion about the media and the Democrats' criticisms of President Trump's handling of the coronavirus situation. (She doesn't buy those criticisms.) She's not making a factual assertion that coronavirus is a hoax or isn't dangerous.
The Complaint also refers to a Sean Hannity March 9 segment, apparently the one where he said, "This scaring the living hell out of people—I see it, again, as like, let's bludgeon Trump with this new hoax." But in context Hannity seems pretty clearly to be expressing an opinion as to the magnitude of the danger, not denying the existence of the danger . . .
But as I read the Complaint, the Washington lawsuit against Fox News doesn't implicate the question, because the statements it alludes to are expressions of opinion, not statements of fact, much less false statements of fact made with knowledge that they are false or likely false.
The reality is Fox News has nothing to worry about. If Huffington Post and MSNBC are really so concerned about knowing false statements of facts, I suggest they look at their own statements regarding Brett Kavanaugh and Covington High School student Nick Sandmann.