Rosenstein: Lawyers Have Responsibility in Era of ‘Fake News’

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

  • Defending rule of law critical in era of deliberate misinformation, Rosenstein says
  • Comments come amid ongoing conservative tension over Russian meddling in 2016 Presidential campaign

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called on lawyers to “accept a personal duty to keep the republic by teaching” the principles of the rule of law, which he said was critical to American democracy.

Upholding “the rule of law is not just about litigation in courtrooms,” Rosenstien said. “It is also about education in classrooms and living rooms.”

He alluded to the “era of fake news,” the notion that media outlets are deliberately engaged in a pattern of misinformation. The phrase was coined by President Donald Trump, who appointed Rosenstein in early 2017.

“The term ‘rule of law’ describes the government’s obligation to follow neutral principles,” and “reserve judgment until we have heard from all parties and completed a fair process,” Rosenstein said.

It requires that we “avoid confirmation bias and remain open to the possibility that the truth may not match our preconceptions,” he said.

Rosenstein’s comments came Aug. 3 in front of a packed conference room of lawyers at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in Chicago, and amid ongoing tensions with the conservatives and the White House over the independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election.

When ABA president Hilarie Bass said that Rosenstein needed to get back to Washington to attend to other matters, Rosenstein quipped: “Please, can I stay?”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com