B runs a very successful blog covering professional tennis. He attends all the major professional tennis tournaments throughout the country. Because of his reputation, B often has prime access to the players during tournaments. He also gets front row seats to every match.
At one tournament, B notices something strange after a break during an early match. Suddenly, the performance of one of the players—Z—rapidly declines. Z is a household name and a world-famous tennis player ranked first in the world. During the game, Z somehow begins losing to a player ranked 100th. B has never seen anything like this during the 20 years he has covered professional tennis. Z eventually loses the match.
After the match, B confronts the players in the locker room. Both Z and his opponent are edgy and evasive, which is unusual for them. B gets almost no information from either one. Just as he turns to leave, B notices Z accepting an envelope from the manager of his opponent. B can’t believe what he has seen. This sure looks and smells like a bribe!
B proceeds to do some research about what really happened. Everyone he talks to, including Z’s friends and family, are shocked by Z’s performance on the field. But they all chalk it up to “bad luck” or an “off-day.” Still, B can’t get the sight of that envelope out of his mind. No one has been able to give him any substantial justification for why Z’s performance collapsed like it did.
A week later, B publishes a blog post suggesting—incorrectly, it turns out—that Z accepted a bribe to lose the match. B cites what he saw in the locker room as well as the interviews he conducted with Z’s friends and family. Because of B’s stellar reputation, all the major sports networks immediately pick up his blog post. Due to the negative publicity from B’s blog post, Z begins to lose his major sponsorships.
Z sues B for defamation. As a defense, B asserts that his speech is protected by the First Amendment. Assume that B’s blog post constitutes defamation.
- How should the court rule on B’s First Amendment defense? Explain, but do not consider any other issue that may be raised by the facts.
How should the court rule on B’s First Amendment defense? Explain, but do not consider any other issue that may be raised by the facts.