Friday, May 22, 2015

Walter Block Discusses His Lawsuit Against NYT that was Dismissed

The following email exchange took place between Prof, Walter Block of Loyola University, New Orleans and Sydney Smith, a reporter at iMediaEthics.

Dear Mr. Block,
> I am a reporter for US media ethics news website iMediaEthics (more about
> us below my signature).
> We are working on a brief news story about the dismissal of your lawsuit
> against the NYTimes over last year's article quoting you.
> Do you have any comment on the lawsuit dismissal?
> Thank you
> Sydney Smith
> reporter

 *As background :* Art Science Research Laboratory i <
> a not-for-profit, co-founded by Rhonda Roland Shearer, an artist, art
> historian and journalist and her late husband, Harvard professor and
> scientist, Stephen Jay Gould.A  ASRL's non-partisan journalism ethics
> program and news site iMediaEthics <>,
> encourages the media's use of scientific methods and experts before
> publication. iMediaEthics also publishes investigations of factual errors
> and ethical breaches by media outlets.


> Dear Mr. Smith:
> Yes, I have plenty to say about this miscarriage of justice. Do you want
> to interview me about this?
> Best regards,
> Walter
> Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
> Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
> Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
> Loyola University New Orleans


From: Sydney Smith
Sent: Wed 5/20/2015 1:30 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Re: Media Inquiry- NYTimes lawsuit

Dear Walter,
Thank you for your quick response, and apologies for my delayed response.

We have the following questions:

1) How did you end up interviewed by the Times to begin with?

<< they called me out of the blue. I had had no contact with them beforehand

Have you been interviewed as a libertarian expert before

<< Yes, I've given more than a few interviews on libertarianism since I became one in 1963

or did they reach out to you?

<<they reached out to me

2) The judge's ruling stated that you confirmed making the comments in
question but what upset you was what implication/suggestions you took from
the Times' use of your comments. Is this correct?

<< not exactly. what upset me was that the NYTimes took my comments entirely out of context. I was trying to explain libertarianism to them. in this regard I tried to examine precisely WHY slavery was an abomination, a heinous rights violation. My answer, it had nothing to do with picking cotton, singing songs, eating gruel. Rather, slavery is a vicious evil because it violates the non aggression principle. I made a hypothetical. suppose there were a system that resembled slavery in superficial ways, but was entirely voluntary. I said that that was "not so bad." From this they concocted the claim that I supported ACTUAL monstrous slavery.

3) Why did you decide to sue in lieu of pursuing a complaint through the
public editor's office, or did you also do this?

<< first I complained, asked for a retraction, clarification. I got a response saying they stood by what they wrote

4) Do you have any comment on the ruling?

<<yes, it was unjust

Can you appeal or is this thelast step?

<< an appeal has been filed yesterday.

Thank you for your time.

<< my pleasure. thanks for following up on this with me.

You may be interested in this more elaborate defense of my position:

Block, Walter E. 2015. “Walter Block Responds to a Critic Who Calls for His Removal as Loyola Professor.” May 16;



  1. I had to take a Mass Comm Law course in college and learned about libel suits and what meets the criteria for one. Basically, the plaintiff has to clearly prove that he was damaged financially from a false claim made against him. Whether or not Block could prove that is insignificant because most likely the case was tossed out because Block doesn't have millions of dollars to spend on a libel attorney like Jesse Ventura. The system just wants you to spend money. If Block got some reputable hotshot attorney to represent him, the judge probably would let the trial proceed. I'm sure the judge is very familiar with the NYT and their attorneys as well. There is a good ole' boy system when it comes to these cases.