Why don’t tabloids get sued more often for their libelous stories about celebrities?
Minneapolis litigator David Olsen of Henson & Efron shares why tabloids don’t get sued as often as the general public might think.
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Well, number one, they do get sued all the time, but the suits generally don’t get very far, and you don’t hear about them because they’re dismissed early on and courts just tend to toss them out. But the other reason is celebrities don’t always want to get involved in these suits because at issue would be their reputation. They have to prove that their reputation has somehow been harmed and that it’s different now than it was before the story came out. And you can imagine what a tabloid would do with a trial with a celebrity when everything the celebrity’s ever done, appeared in, said, written, showed up on the Internet can come into evidence. And it generally would just make the situation a lot worse for the celebrity.
There are rare instances when celebrities sue tabloids and win, but, again, they’re very rare because the actual malice standard for public figures comes into play, and they’re just difficult cases to win. And usually the tabloids are pretty good about couching things in terms of opinion or reporting what other people have said, relying on their sources. So, again, it gets pretty difficult to win those cases.