The end of libel

At a media confab yesterday (which I’ll blog about after my media confab today… and, yes, I do get the sense that media is becoming meta: just talking about talking about things), Susan Crawford dropped a big thought over a cup of coffee in the hall: Asked the question that is always asked at these what-about-the-bloggers evenets — what about libel — Susan said she thinks there is no need for libel law. She said the internet enables people to respond to libel in a way that was not possible before, when access to the press or the tower was essential to right a wrong.

The funny thing was that one of the big-media guys said he didn’t think that John Roberts would ever overturn libel laws based on the memo The Times has reported on the day before, in which Roberts allegedly argued that the extra protection afforded the press in the Sullivan case should be eliminated. But then the next coffee-cup-bearer said, oh, didn’t you see The Times’ (not-prominent-enough) correction this morning: Roberts didn’t write that memo after all.

Was Roberts libeled? Well, under Sullivan, he’d have to prove actual malice. Under Crawford, he’d merely have to blog and fisk The Times.