The piece was inflammatory enough to prompt Steinbuch's lawyer Jonathan Rosen, writing under JSRosen, to contest alleged inaccuracies in Slate's reporting.
yggy systematically tears down the plaintiff's case on the following grounds:
First, what Cutler wrote and said is substantively true. Second, Steinbuch is himself a borderline public figure. His actions do reflect on Sen. Mike DeWine and are therefore privy to the public. Third, Cutler did not identify Steinbuch by name. She could have perhaps been slyer than "RS," and if she had been there would be no case today, but any number of people inside the Beltway could share those initials.
Rejecting "Lithwick's half-hearted effort to prop up a straw woman of 'political interest,' " rundeep disagrees with yggy's viewpoint: "the fact that salacious information has a high readership is hardly indicative of its value to political or public discourse."
While showing little sympathy for Steinbuch, MomboMan-3 outlines a possible recourse for the plaintiff: "go after the money she is making from books, HBO and Playboy. After all, her story is a story because she had a relationship with him, therefore his is entitled to a portion of the gains from that relationship. Without her sex partners, she has no story, and no monetary value."
On the question of privacy and personal experience, Merritt30 makes a liberal free speech argument:
To my non-legal mind, at least, it seems like there is a crucial difference between Cutler describing something she may have heard about Steinbuch and something that she personally experienced with Steinbuch. She was not merely repeating gossip that she heard from a third party or describing something she had seen through a hidden camera; she was talking about her own experience.
It seems to me that one should be free to talk about one's own personal experiences pretty much without legal restriction (except perhaps if the event were specifically intended as a set-up to embarrass someone, e.g. a candid-camera type situation). Otherwise, say, it would be possible for an abuser to sue his victim if she were to publish an account of his "private" behavior. One's right to publish a memoir or autobiography of any sort would be in question.
HLS2003, in a free-wheeling reflection on sex, blogs, and self-control, invokes the Fourth Amendment to reason that "if a person can have his deepest secrets recorded, turned over to the government, and used to convict him of a crime because he chose his confidants unwisely, then it only seems reasonable that some dumbass who decided to arrange booty calls with a girl he barely knew should have to take the risk that she's the type to screw-and-tell."
CaLawyer worries more broadly about creating a tort of gossip:
Everyone believes in 'the right of privacy', but everyone has a different concept of it. Everyone has secrets, and we view it as a violation of our own personal autonomy when these secrets are revealed to people we'd rather not have know about them, or revealed indiscriminately…
Yes, there is such thing as a tort of "Public Disclosure of Private Facts". It is ill-defined, largely because we're not sure what constitutes "Private facts", and we're not sure at what point a prohibition against the disclosure of private facts intrudes on my right to speak…if you read Supreme Court cases, they talk about political speech receiving the highest level of protection, but I think that idea has not been thought through fully. Most people's lives are not consumed with talk of politics. Most people's everyday conversations revolve around themselves, their friends, their family, and what's going on in their lives. In other words, gossip. If I had to worry about being sued every time I let something slip that a friend of mine told me but which they considered "private", I would be reluctant to talk at all, except about politics. And I don't want to live in a country where the only way I can avoid being sued is to sound like a C-SPAN groupie.
Contribute your thoughts in Jurisprudence. AC … 6:30pm PDT
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