Video On Demand

Book Event: Liar in a Crowded Theater with Jeff Kosseff

November 14, 2023 • 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST

Brought to you by

Liar in a Crowded Theater: Freedom of Speech in a World of Misinformation

Please join the CSIS Strategic Technologies Program for a virtual book event featuring Jeff Kosseff, Associate Professor of Cybersecurity Law at the United States Naval Academy and author of Liar in a Crowded Theater: Freedom of Speech in a World of Misinformation [Johns Hopkins University Press; 2023]The conversation will be moderated by Caitlin Chin-Rothmann, a Fellow with the CSIS Strategic Technologies Program, and Quinta Jurecic, a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, Senior Editor at Lawfare, and Contributing Writer at The Atlantic and The Washington Post’s Book World.

When commentators and politicians discuss misinformation, they often repeat five words: "fire in a crowded theater." Though governments can, if they choose, attempt to ban harmful lies, propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation, how effective will their efforts really be? Can they punish someone for yelling "fire" in a crowded theater—and would those lies then have any less impact? How do governments around the world respond to the spread of misinformation, and when should the US government protect the free speech of liars?

In Liar in a Crowded Theater, Kosseff addresses the pervasiveness of lies, the legal protections they enjoy, the harm they cause, and how to combat them. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and the January 6, 2021, insurrection on the Capitol building, he argues that even though lies can inflict huge damage, U.S. law should continue to protect them. Rather than resorting to regulating speech and fining or jailing speakers, Kosseff proposes solutions that focus on minimizing the harms of misinformation. If we want to seriously address concerns about misinformation and other false speech, we must finally exit the crowded theater.

This event is made possible through general support to CSIS.

Program Contact

Media Inquiries

Jeff Kosseff headshot
Associate Professor of Cybersecurity Law, United States Naval Academy