San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


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In Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment in favor of certain defendants in a defamation and invasion of privacy action. In doing so, the court resolved the case on an actual malice basis and concluded that lies are constitutionally protected in some instances. This Note analyzes the court's reasoning with respect to the proper standard to be applied in defamation actions. The analysis reveals that the court's resolution was flawed in that it should have decided the defamation issue first. A finding that the quotations in question were not defamatory would have made it unnecessary to reach the constitutional issue of actual malice. In conclusion, the court's decision shields conscious lies which cause injury a result not intended by the Supreme Court when it fashioned the actual malice test.

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