Libel suits usually result from stories that allege crime, fraud, dishonesty, immoral or dishonorable conduct, or stories which defame the subject professionally, causing loss of reputation or financial strength to an individual or business.
The only complete and unconditional defense to a libel claim is proof that the statement is true. Quoting a source accurately isn’t enough; the defendant must convince a jury that his statements or the material in the statements he or she quoted are substantially correct.
A defendant can protect the alleged defamatory statement if the statement came from privileged sources; that is, from public records or statements at meetings of public bodies.
The Neutral Reportage Defense allows news organizations to report false accusations made by non-governmental organizations and/or individuals which have a history of responsible behavior.
A plaintiff may not recover damages for a defamatory publication to which he or she consented, or which he or she authorized, procured or invited.
In most states, public officials or figures as plaintiffs are required to prove negligence or actual malice on the part of the publisher. To prove actual malice, a person needs to show that at the time of publication or broadcast, those responsible for the story either knew it was not true or had a reckless disregarded for the truth.