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Stop putting words in my mouth! Is it legal to quote someone for something that they never said?
Kendall Jenner wants to know. The reality-TV star is upset that Us Weekly quoted her as saying about her father Bruce Jenner: "He's a wonderful man. And just because he's changing shoes now, so to speak, doesn't make him less wonderful. I will always love my dad, whether he's a man or a woman." Kendall claims she never said that, and wants to know whether it's illegal for a magazine to publish a false quote.
So, what's the answer?
While Us Weekly may not face criminal charges for publishing the quote, Kendall could have a potential case for defamation.
For example: Bob wrote, "Tina is short because she's only 4 feet tall." However, Tina is actually 5 feet tall. Did this false statement really hurt Tina? Probably not. It wouldn't be defamatory.
The Us Weekly statement quoted Kendall as saying her dad is changing from a man to a woman. Assuming that the statement is a false quote, is it bad enough to damage Kendall's reputation? Again, probably not. Other than having her dad possibly mad at her, Kendall's reputation is unlikely to be damaged by this statement.
Also, for public figures and celebrities, the standard for defamation is higher. This group of people would also have to prove that the statement was made with "actual malice." Actual malice is when the person making the statement knew it was false or had reckless disregard for the truth.
Is that what happened here? The question may be moot. Us Weekly has already retracted the article and apologized to Kendall.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.