Hastings Law Journal


At common law, republication of a known falsehood is privileged as a fair report only when the calumny reported was made at an official proceeding or public meeting. In Edwards v. National Audubon Society, Inc., however, the Second Circuit recognized a first amendment privilege to republish newsworthy defamatory falsehoods regardless of the second publisher's subjective awareness of the statement's falsity. This Comment briefly examines the common law privilege of fair report, then analyzes the first amendment theory enunciated by the Supreme Court. The Comment concludes that, because the neutral reportage privilege created by Edwards gives insufficient weight to the state interest in protecting the reputations of its citizens, the privilege is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's first amendment theory.

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