Undeterred, Powell seeks to have it both ways. Through her lawyers, she claims on one hand that she based her allegations on facts. On the other, she asserts that no reasonable person would believe that her claims were facts. Powell’s word-salad of tortured logic and self-contradiction will fool no one.
Other public figures—including Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow—have similarly rebutted defamation charges by arguing that not everything they say on air can be construed as verifiably true. Like Powell, the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of Infowars went further when sued by Sandy Hook parents a few years ago, arguing that he can speak untruths on air while maintaining that the untruths are true, regardless of defamation laws.
Powell’s case is a bit different. She did not speak as a news anchor or pundit, but as a lawyer who was acting in the capacity of a lawyer—and thus bound by a slew of ethical obligations of candor and accuracy that accompany a license to practice law. For starters, she cannot make insupportable factual representations to a court without running afoul of sanctions rules.