Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law


David A. Elder

First Page



In over four decades since the New York Times v. Sullivan decision, the United States Supreme Court has accorded the American media a level of freedom of expression that is unparalleled in the democratic world. Yet, the Supreme Court has also repeatedly affirmed its unwillingness to give the media a constitutional blank check, and has authorized redress where public persons can prove that the defendant published a "calculated falsehood." As any lawyer knows, the calculated falsehood standard is so difficult to satisfy that often none but the impulsive, the intrepid or the naive will contemplate suing for libel. However, Sullivan does allow for rare victories by public persons, and may impose a degree of caution on at least some media defendants.