In 2015, CNN reported that St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach had an infant mortality rate for open-heart surgery that was three times the national average. Davide Carbone, the CEO of the hospital, was even visited by reporters for CNN's “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees” at his home for comment. He refused to talk to them, and was later forced to resign.
While this sounds like a case of effective, hard-hitting reporting, it is more likely a case of media malice and "fake news."
Carbone filed a defamation lawsuit against CNN after the CNN segment, claiming it was a "series of false and defamatory news reports." CNN said that the mortality rate of Carbone's hospital was three times the national average, but Carbone argues this was intentional manipulation of the data.
Carbone's lawsuit states that "by knowingly comparing a mortality rate for Dr. Black based only on open-heart surgeries to a mortality rate based on both open-heart and closed-heart surgeries, the CNN Defendants knowingly and artificially inflated Dr. Black’s mortality rate vis-à-vis the STS national average." Essentially, CNN did an "apples-to-oranges" comparison for the sole reason of creating outrage and manufacturing a story.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Georgia, Judge Orinda Evans, ruled that Carbone's case could move forward, even declaring that she found that CNN may have acted with “actual malice.” Evans wrote in her ruling that "The Court finds these allegations sufficient to establish that CNN was acting recklessly with regard to the accuracy of its report". CNN had attempted to have the case dismissed, but failed.
The mainstream media loves to push fake stories, but this time it won't end well for them. The Hollywood Reporter believes cases like this may make the media easier to sue for defamation.
This story might have a happy ending after all.