The New York Times published a story alleging that person A did X. You publish a piece that said, "The New York Times reported that A did X."

Later, Person A sues the New York Times and wins. Can that person then sue you for republication of the New York Times libel and win? Or is your statement that "the New York Times reported..." factual enough to defeat the suit.

Would the answer change if you published your statement after the commencement of the lawsuit? That is, would the lawsuit put you on "notice" that the New York Times' claim was disputed?


No, the truth of the statement is the defense. It is true that The New York Times reported that A did X, even if it is false that A did X. Your claim is about the NYT, not about A. If you just repeat the false allegation (republishing it), that is libel.

  • OK, the key point is that you cite the NYT. An upvote (and possibly an acceptance, but I like to wait a day or two.)
    – Libra
    May 31 '17 at 2:16

That depends on the focus of your publication. If your focus is on the fact that "NYT is the one which made the report", then I coincide with @user6726 in that you cannot be held liable.

By contrast, if you cite NYT merely as the source of statement "A did X", and your use of that false information tends to defame person A, you risk being held liable. The extent of your liability and judgment award will depend on the circumstances and the provable mental state with which you made the publication.

For instance, evidence that you were aware of case A vs NYT (at the time of the publication) might support a finding that you published the statement with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity (one form of what is known as actual malice). Although that evidence by itself might not be sufficient proof of actual malice, it certainly might prove negligence and lead to A's recovery of any special damages he suffered from your publication.

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