Liable for commercial disparagement

Commercial Disparagement:

When Olivia P. Rae talks, people listen. As a talk show host on her nationally-syndicated television program, "The 'O' Show," Olivia reaches approximately thirty (30) million viewers each week. Her dedicated viewers are collectively referred to as "Olivia's Militia," and most of her viewers wait for Olivia's on-air blessings before deciding what to read, how to vote, and more generally, how to think.

One of her recent programs has Olivia in "hot water." Olivia devoted her September 30 episode to a food-borne illness commonly referred to as "crazy chicken" disease. During the past two years, approximately fifty (50) people in the United States had developed physical symptoms after eating undercooked, diseased chicken. Apparently, chickens had developed the disease after eating substandard feed, and consumers had been affected in the food chain. Common symptom included muscle contractions, nausea and diarrhea, and less-than-caring individuals, many skeptical of the disease's legitimacy, referred to these symptoms as "The Chicken Dance."

During the September 30 episode of "The 'O' Show," Olivia interviewed a medical doctor. Dr. Tyson Fowler, who said that in his opinion, chicken was not safe for human consumption. In response, Olivia had said "Doctor Fowler, if that is the case, I will never eat chicken again."

Hearing of this episode, the United Poultry Growers Association sued Olivia and "The 'O' Show," claiming commercial disparagement (the commercial equivalent of defamation).

Are the defendants Olivia and "The 'O' Show" liable for commercial disparagement? Why? Explain fully with references/citations.

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Business Law and Ethics: Liable for commercial disparagement
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