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Lay people, like me, might start with the trial of John Peter Zenger in colonial America, then move to the Vietnam-era libel suit brought by Gen. Westmoreland against CBS. Even if false, actual malice must be shown to sustain a slander or libel claim agai st the press.

My understanding is that actual malice must be shown if the plaintiff is a public figure (originally a public officer, but I think the definition has expanded to include any well-known person).

So, Smollett likely has a case - don't know how strong a one. The actual malice standard probably applies at some level, but IANAL.
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