'Your Freedom of Press Is Not Freedom to Lie': MTG Puts HuffPost in Its Place for Deceptive Article


After HuffPost published an incendiary, misleading headline that claimed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was encouraging her supporters to shoot Democrats, the controversial Georgia Republican had nine words for the publication: “Your freedom of press is not freedom to lie.”

The article — which remains up, albeit with a slightly altered headline — dealt with a viral campaign video Greene posted to social media.

The ad, posted Tuesday, dealt with two major destructive forces: Democratic policies and feral hogs eating up crops.

“We’ve got skyrocketing inflation, high diesel fuel [prices] and Democrats’ America-last policies,” Greene said, standing in front of a helicopter.

However, she noted those policies weren’t the only things affecting beleaguered farmers. Feral hogs have also been a major issue, tearing up fields in many parts of America.

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Voters can only solve one of those problems at the ballot box. However, with feral hogs, you can hunt them, often from helicopters. That’s exactly what Greene was doing in the video, meant to advertise a contest to win a hog-hunting trip with Greene.

“Let’s help American farmers out,” Greene said at the conclusion of the video.

Now, you’ll notice at no point does Greene directly conflate Democrats with feral hogs. She didn’t go out there and say, “Let’s do to these hogs what we should do to Democrats!”

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In fact, the ad assiduously avoids any comparison that might imply the two are in any way similar — and for good reason, because you can see publications like HuffPost writing a headline like, “Marjorie Taylor Greene Likens Dems To Hogs, Wants Help Shooting Them Dead.”

Except the liberal outlet went ahead and wrote that headline anyway.

“Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Tuesday launched a competition to join her hunting for feral hogs in Texas,” HuffPost’s Lee Moran wrote.

“In a video shared on Facebook, the extremist lawmaker likened Democrats to the wild animals that tear up farmers’ crops.”

It’s unclear whether Moran was responsible for the headline, but it was obviously false — and in a series of tweets, Greene made sure HuffPost knew it.

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“I demand you change this headline and your lies about me immediately,” the congresswoman wrote.

“Your freedom of press is not freedom to lie about me,” she said. “I NEVER said anything like this and did NOT call for violence on Democrats.

“Lee Moran, your political activist posing as a journalist writing for your hard left political blog, should be fired immediately for such a lie.

“Your editor should be fired for using his position to green light such atrocious lies and character assassinations against me.”

Greene went on to say that she was “fed up with the political hacks in the media who lie about Republicans every single day.”

“You don’t get to lie about me and many of my colleagues calling us Nazis, fascists, and any other nasty label you type up and get away with it,” she continued.

“Your projection is becoming exposed.”

“Responsible honest journalism is badly missing in this country,” the congresswoman said. “It’s a worthy profession and those that pursue it with honesty and integrity are truly the best.”

“Does America have any journalist of such high character and moral ethics that can resist the powerful temptation to lie, abusing their power of freedom of the press, in order to serve their political party?” she concluded. “Tragically, we do not.”

On one level, Greene is wrong — legally speaking, most publications do get to lie about Republicans thanks to the First Amendment and the “actual malice” standard.

In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court ruled that not only must a published statement be false to be considered legally libelous, it must be done “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

This is an especially difficult hurdle to clear — and it seems a bit more difficult for Republicans and conservatives. The judge in former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against The New York Times, for instance, announced during deliberations earlier this year that he would throw out the verdict no matter what the jury decided because he said he found no evidence of malice.

In that case, the Times published an Op-Ed that explicitly linked Palin’s political action committee to the shooting of former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.

This was based on an advertisement that put targets over vulnerable Democrat districts, one of which was Giffords’. However, there was no evidence the shooter ever saw the ad, and the theory had been thoroughly debunked by the time the Op-Ed was published.

While the jury in the Palin case eventually ruled against her, it’s worth noting several of them reportedly received notifications on their phones during deliberations that informed them the judge would throw out a verdict against the Times no matter what.

Thus, a court case against HuffPost likely wouldn’t end well, no matter how bad the headline was.

That said, Greene was at least able to shame the outlet into changing it — slightly.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene Likens Dems To The Hogs She Wants To Shoot Dead,” the headline read as of Friday morning.

That’s still wrong, but it doesn’t say Greene explicitly called for shooting Democrats dead like they were feral hogs.

At the end of the story, meanwhile, there was a note — not an official correction, mind you — quietly mentioning that the “headline has been updated to clarify the contents of the video.”

Actually, it was updated to clarify a lie about the contents of the video. But who’s counting?

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture