Newspaper Threatens Libel Suit Over 'Fake News' Insult

Everyone has been throwing the phrase “fake news” around rather freely over the last few months, but we may all have to start being a little more careful. The epithet can get you sued.

That’s what’s happening in Colorado, where The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction is threatening to sue a state senator for defamation after he accused the newspaper of publishing fake news.

Colorado State Senator Ray Scott, a Republican representing Grand Junction, took issue with The Daily Sentinel after it ran an editorial demanding that he hold a hearing concerning an open records bill that had been scheduled, but was suddenly canceled.

Scott fired back on Twitter, writing: “We have our own fake news in Grand Junction. The very liberal GJ Sentinel is attempting to apply pressure for me to move a bill. They have no facts, as usual, and tried to call me out on SB 40 know as the CORA bill. They haven’t contacted me to get any information on why the bill has been delayed, but choose to run a fake news story demanding I run the bill. You may have a barrel of ink, but it just splashed in your face. @foolstask@fakenews.”



The Daily Sentinel’s publisher, Jay Seaton, returned fire in a column published last weekend, claiming the newspaper’s reporters tried to reach Scott for comment, to no avail.

Seaton then responded to the “fake news” allegation by threatening to sue Scott for libel, writing: “I take this allegation from Sen. Scott very seriously. It attacks the very reason for our existence… When Sen. Scott asserts that The Daily Sentinel is ‘fake news,’ he intends to diminish The Sentinel as a purveyor of reliable information.”

With the newspaper’s reputation at stake, Seaton added: “I don’t think I can sit back and take this kind of attack from an elected official. We are brokers in facts. Words have real meaning in this business. Sen. Scott has defamed this company and me as its leader.”

Tthe whole sorry episode just goes to show how things have changed out West. Time was, they would’ve sued you for calling them “very liberal.”

2 comments about "Newspaper Threatens Libel Suit Over 'Fake News' Insult".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ford Kanzler from Marketing/PR Savvy, February 20, 2017 at 2:57 p.m.

    A follow-up on whether Seaton pursues Scott on the threat would interesting and a reverse of recent politician vs. newspaper combat in the Eastern US.
    Yes, things have changed out West. Time was when Scott might have run into a fist or worse in Colorado or elsewhere. Calling someone a lier in print should be put in "the bad idea file."

  2. Chuck Lantz from, network, February 20, 2017 at 5:54 p.m.

    This story definitely caught my attention.  My initial "WTH" (this IS a family-friendly site, after all) came when I saw that Scott's complaints are aimed at an editorial, and not a news report.  

    One would assume that any qualified judge would immediately toss the suit, since editorials are essentially opinion pieces.  If Scott does win by some twisted legal logic, and precedent is set allowing all editorial content - and slams - to be actionable in civil courts, we're gonna need a lot more lawyers and judges in a big hurry.  

Next story loading loading..