Should NASA sue Fox for slander?

Last night morbid curiosity overcame discretion, and I watched Fox’s special about how the moon landings were supposed to be a hoax perpetrated by NASA.

Along with a lot of other rot, the makers of this “documentary” basically accused NASA of deliberately staging the fire that killed Gus Grissom and two other astronauts, supposedly because Grissom was about to blow the whistle on the “hoax.”

In other words, they acused NASA of murder.

Should NASA sue? Can NASA sue? Is there any legal action NASA can take against Fox and the producers of this tripe? If there isn’t, should there be? Let’s face it, this “documentary” was grossly irresponsible, to put it mildly.

Maybe this belongs in the BBQ Pit instead of Great Debates.

I’d be absolutely thrilled if they sued, and I think they should.

If I were to produce and air a television program suggesting that the president of FOX had authorized a fake accident in his office that killed three of his workers who were about to blow the whistle on a gigantic hoax, he’d have my ass in civil court so fast I wouldn’t know what hit me. What FOX aired was slanderous in the extreme.

Don’t forget the families of these astronauts. According to these bozos, they were all “in” on the conspiracy. Any living Apollo Astronaut, by also covering up the conspiracy, is also guilty of these guys deaths. Perhaps they should also sue.

Don’t forget the families of these astronauts. According to these bozos, they were all “in” on the conspiracy. Any living Apollo Astronaut, by also covering up the conspiracy, is also guilty of these guys deaths. Perhaps they should also sue.

Fox: Fair and balanced. We report, you decide.

Now Elvis…
There is a difference between Fox News and Fox network TV. There’s a lot to laugh about here, no need to go making stuff up.

I can’t believe you guys have waited until now to wake up to the fact that the Fox network is sensationalism TV. Didn’t the last couple of months of Temptation Island clue you in on that fact?

Now Freedom …

Can’t I take a poke just for fun without you O’Reilly worshippers considering it blasphemous? And don’t you think the credibility of one side of the organization reflects on the credibility of the other? It’s the same ownership and upper management, after all. Yes, it’s just a tad ironic that one part of Murdoch’s operation can be preaching about the decay in traditional family values while another part is producing “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?” and “Temptation Island”, don’tcha think?

Re Fox being sensationalistic: We’ve been aware of that all along, and have patiently tried to explain to you that it just might infect their “news” operation as well. I’m glad you’re catching onto it, and may be on the way to applying appropriate standards of skepticism to all your sources of information.

Trust no one …

That is so fucking sick. I’ll bet a lot of people at NASA, and a lot of NASA retirees, are hopping mad about that. I hope they do sue.

Or maybe they should just drop Mir on Rupert Murdoch’s head.

The question is not whether they should sue, but whether or not they can sue.

Isn’t NASA a government agency? Can the government sue for slander? Individual members of that agency, sure. But the entire administration?

Imagine, if you will, the trial:

NASAs defense will, at least partly, consist of scientific evidence that the moon missions weren’t faked - the same evidence that the conspiracy theorists are busy ignoring. These people are not interested in scientific evidence. They just won’t care.

When NASA wins (I’m assuming an intelligent court, here), the conspiracy theorists won’t change their minds. On the contrary, they’ll feel vindicated: “Even the courts are on NASAs payroll! Another cover-up!”

Meanwhile, Fox will be playing the “persecuted media outlet defending the freedom of speech” card for all that it’s worth. No matter what the outcome, Fox gets a load of free publicity. And they’ll air the show again with a “What the Gvt. doesn’t want you to see” trailer and carefully worded “retractions” tagged on, leaving noone in doubt that they consider themselves victimized.

Nope, if NASA is smart, they’ll take the high road. Make a press release saying that they have complete trust in the ability of the average American TV viewer to tell facts from speculation - and apart from that, no comment.

This means that the rest of us will have to fight ignorance a little harder, but this particular battle isn’t that hard, is it ?

S. Norman

I thought the show was neat. I especially like the X-Files guy hosting it.

The show had the usual disclaimer at the beginning.

As far as suing for “implied murder” er, um, I guess we can sue Mash for implying the same thing (since it was based on real general’s units and so on) or perhaps that director guy of JFK.

And the CIA on Marylin Monroe.

Come on, guys.

Anyway, some of the evidence they gave would have been convincing if I didn’t know any better. Like God vs the Devil, we only got one side of the story. the NASA guy they put on must have had 90% of his comments edited out, haha.

Still, the evidence in my mind is… the Ruskies dropped out of the space race when we did that. Surely they had, as a government, more evidence than our tv broadcast to go on, eh?

I loved how the narrator described how experts would say that they had proof of how it was faked, and then the experts would carefully couch their statements in “I believe that it’s POSSIBLE that NASA could have faked it”. Fox presented it, of course, as “I believe … that NASA … faked it.”

My question is, why hasn’t NASA killed off Senator Buzz Aldrin? Doesn’t he know just as much?

A. The government can’t sue for slander.

B. Why would they want to even bother with this crap?

C. I guarantee the folks at Fox News are cringing at the airing of this tripe. It reflects poorly on the entire network.

D. What pisses me off about this type of programming is that the only way it can be made to seem legitimate is to trot only the conspiracy theorists. Then, they say NASA has little comment. What, you can’t find some experts not involved in NASA who can refute the claims? There’s about a thousand here on the SDMB alone. NASA isn’t going to spend a lot of time on camera every time somebody refutes the moon landings. I can’t blame them.

Maybe Fox could package this show together with “Alien Autopsy” and “Live From the Pyramids: Proof that Aliens Are In Control of Every University’s Egyptology Department”, and have themselves a good old-fashioned trilogy.

Tracer? That show’s called “Stargate SG-1”, and it’s on Showtime Fridays at 10. Richard Dean Anderson (“MacGyver”) is the star.

And even if the government could sue for slander, I don’t think they have a case.

IANAL, but I believe slander requires that the person in question to be publishing/propogating knowingly false information with the intention of character assassination.

Maybe the information is false. I hope it is, and I hope that NASA isn’t responsible for the deaths of those Apollo I astronauts. But is it proveable? Is it proveable that they aren’t responsible?

Did FOX know that the information is false? Do they think that they are throwing bald-faced lies around with the intention to hurt NASA’s name? I don’t think so here. I don’t see a case at all.

They don’t have to know it was false. In fact, that statement doesn’t even have to be false. It has to be made with malice aforethought and with reckless disregard for the truth.

Keep in mind, when Jim Lovell called Bill Kaysing, the conspiracy kook featured in this show, a kook, Kaysing sued him for libel. :rolleyes:

I’m having a hard time putting together these two statements. If the statement doesn’t have to be false then the only other alternatives are truth and indeterminate. If it is the truth, how can someone disregard the truth by stating it? How can you slander a person by stating a fact? Wouldn’t freedom of the press and/or speech take over at that point?

If it is indeterminate, then we get into a question of who the person is that’s being slandered. While NASA isn’t a public person, it is a public entity. Assuming of course that NASA can actually sue for slander (which it seems it can’t), then NASA, as a public…whatever…would have the burden shifted to it. NASA would have to prove the statement is false. Fox would not have to prove the statement is true.

God, I wish The Simpsons weren’t on FOX. Then I’d never have to patronize that vile network.

I have no idea of the legal issues, I would hope that NASA couldn’t sue, because I don’t want people to be discouraged from casting a critical eye. I think these moon-landing-was-fake charges are silly, but I’m glad we are able to make these charges.

If there was an atmosphere of not being able to question what NASA says it accomplishes, we would probably be seeing film of Taco Bells being constructed on Pluto on the 7 o’clock news.