fair comment


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Fair Comment

A form of qualified privilege applied to news media publications relating to discussion of matters that are of legitimate concern to the community as a whole because they materially affect the interests of all the community. A term used in the defense of libel actions, applying to statements made by a writer (e.g., in the news media) in an honest belief in their truth, relating to official acts, even though the statements are not true in fact. Fair comment must be based on facts truly stated, must not contain imputations of corrupt or dishonorable motives except as warranted by the facts, and must be an honest expression of the writer's real opinion.

Fair comment is a privilege under the First Amendment to the Constitution and also applies to invasions of the right of privacy.

In order for a statement to fall into the category of a fair comment, it must not extend beyond matters of concern to the public. It must be a mere expression of the opinion of the commentator.

Cross-references

Freedom of the Press.

fair comment

n. a statement of opinion (no matter how ludicrous) based on facts which are correctly stated, and which does not allege dishonorable motives on the part of the target of the comment. The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that to protect free speech, statements made about a public person (politician, officeholder, movie star, author, etc.), even though untrue and harmful, are fair comment unless the victim can prove the opinions were stated maliciously---with hate, dislike, intent and/or desire to harm. Thus, a public figure may not sue for defamation based on published opinions or alleged information which would be the basis of a lawsuit if said or published about a private person not worthy of opinion or comment. Fair comment is a crucial defense against libel suits which is put up by members of the media. (See: defamation, libel, public figure, slander)

fair comment

see DEFAMATION, ROLLED-UP PLEA.
References in periodicals archive ?
Responding to O'Driscoll's comments, Barclay said: "I think that is fair comment based on our record going into this game.
It is not a fair comment and we do not accept it,' Bukhari said.
Nawaz Sharif should be tried under contempt of court law as statements do not fall within the expression of fair comment.
Theresa May has shown total cowardice in dealing with people in the worst possible situation so it's a fair comment.
Tell delivery person about your disability BARBARA Dunn makes a fair comment of being unable to adapt to new technology having to sign on some weird contraption for items delivered to her home (Talkback, May 24).
15) from Edward Grainger of Nunthorpe: The reference to four previous letters on the elected mayor and the combined authority for Teesside was fair comment.
Hawley unashamedly declared that much of his music is miserable, which was fair comment.
Keegan, speaking in an interview with beIN Sports, said: "What was said about Mike Williamson was fair comment.
But she has a reputation for being a very hard champion of the welfare reforms this Government has introduced and I believe it was fair comment and unfair to call me a sexist.
who] has gone beyond fair comment and debate about doctrinal matters.
People are entitled to make fair comment and politicians have to be prepared for criticism but personal abuse by anonymous internet trolls oversteps the mark.
barking'', he crosses the line between fair comment and insult.