Newsmax Is Very, Very Upset About Florida's New Defamation Bill

You’d think the same extremist outlets that have screaming “fake news!” for the past seven years might have stopped to consider the face-eating tigers might eventually eat their faces! Via the Daily Beast:

Newsmax has joined the legions of conservative media outlets and figures who have trashed a pair of Florida GOP bills that ostensibly aim to curb so-called “liberal media” by loosening the definition of defamation.

“Newsmax strongly opposes both bills and any proposed law that makes it easy to sue media companies,” Chris Ruddy, Newsmax’s CEO, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Free speech and a free press are the most fundamental of our constitutional rights and must be zealously safeguarded.” (Newsmax maintains a headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, and Ruddy is a West Palm Beach native and a friend of former President Donald Trump.)

The bills—House Bill 757 and its Florida Senate companion, SB 1780—would lower the threshold for defamation in Florida, allowing public officials to sue journalists and media outlets if an anonymous source says something the official believes to be false. The bills passed out of a Florida House committee on Wednesday in a 14-7 vote, and it is next headed to a Florida House vote.

Whatever the right-wing legislative effort’s intentions, these conservative critics say, it would be an affront to the First Amendment and would ultimately harm right-of-center media.

Of course, liberal organizations like the ACLU and People for the American Way will fight these bills in court and probably win. And rightwing outlets won’t have learned a thing.

State Rep. Alex Andrade, a self-described “conservative fighter,” proposed the House bill after a failed attempt at pushing the legislation into law last year. He told the Florida House’s Civil Justice Subcommittee last month that the media was “not engaging in sufficient self-regulation” and that journalists cannot “act so recklessly that they publish something that could harm someone’s reputation without doing the bare minimum utility.”

I’m sure he’s just concerned about Republicans using Russian disinformation to smear Hunter Biden, right? Or maybe not:

Trey Radel, a former U.S. congressman who hosts a radio show on Fox News Radio, told Fox News that the bill would help liberal lawyers to shut down conservative outlets.

“While certain Republicans may think that they’re going to be suing and taking on The New York Times and The Washington Post, here’s the breaking news: liberal trial lawyers are going to have a field day with center-right media in the state of Florida,” Radel said. “Signing this into law will destroy conservative media in this state.”

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