A CNN talking head confidently asserted, the other day, that there is no First Amendment right to lie.

And no one challenged her on air, though there was ample opportunity. (Dave Rubin handles it nicely here.)

First, if one has no right to lie, how on earth does CNN stay in business?

Second, and this is a Mr. Obvious point: who gets to decide what is a lie or not? After all, a sincerely held mistaken belief is not a lie, but can be just as wrong and (in some circumstances) just as damaging, all the while being extremely hard to distinguish from a lie. It is hard to read minds. Our species is just not good at it.

Third, we cannot even easily determine who is correct or not half the time. On most political issues, the facts are not at all clear, and competing theories obscure the facticity of many, if not most, statements.

Fourth, how can any legal analyst (and it was a legal analyst who said it) not know that a right to lie is indeed protected? You do not have a right to lie in the course of negotiating a contract — that’s fraud, and something quite distinct. But this sort of elementary distinction is basic to legal theory. That a legal scholar said it strikes me as a bad sign for America.

But then, pretty much everything in the last 20 years has been a bad sign for America. And the world.

This comes on the heels of an astounding rant from CNN’s Brian Stelter, last weekend, in which he argued for the suppression of news competitors such as OAN and Fox News, not to abridge their “freedom of speech,” merely their “freedom of reach.” This whopper was handled well by Paul Jacob:

[E]xtending the reach of one’s speech is why we have “the press.” This freedom of the press (“reach”) is also protected from government, to be valued even when we disagree with our opponents.

The idea that a few CNN hosts get to determine The Official Truth for everybody else, and that this should be institutionalized in some broad, society-wide way, would toll the death knell of America.

Paul Jacob, “Stelter in a Time of Storm,” February 4, 2021.

This shows the epistemic hubris of CNN. These propagandists actually think they can fool their audience into believing they have a privileged epistemic stance, thus able easily to determine for others the truth from falsity, sincere error from lying.

CNN is a propaganda channel, just like most news channels. (It isn’t a “network,” not really.) The fake-news practitioners do not believe they have the ability their behavior and advocacy implies. They are liars.