A $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC News for referring to a South Dakota company's meat product as "pink slime" is going to trial after a South Dakota judge ruled that ABC journalists "were reckless" in their reporting and that "they engaged in purposeful avoidance of the truth."

The judge dismissed a five-year-old defamation suit against Diane Sawyer but left open cases against several other journalists, include Emmy-winning reporter Jim Avila. The "pink slime" controversy gained national attention for crippling the beef company, and affecting employment. The network has repeatedly defended its reporting, calling the suit meritless.

Why it matters: The case is another First Amendment test for the media, and will further define the scope of food libel laws across the country. The South Dakota food libel law that this suit is based on triples the amount of reported damages if a news organization knowingly lied about food safety claims, meaning ABC could be looking at up to $5.7 billion in charges.

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Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 21,295,429 — Total deaths: 767,714— Total recoveries: 13,295,750Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 5,345,610 — Total deaths: 169,146 — Total recoveries: 1,796,326 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: The coronavirus-connected heart ailment that could lead to sudden death in athletes — Patients grow more open with their health data during pandemic — FDA issues emergency use authorization for Yale's saliva coronavirus test.
  4. Education: "Historic" laptop demand leads to shortages ahead of remote school — Why learning pods aren't a panacea for remote learning — The COVID-19 learning cliff.
  5. States: New York to reopen gyms, bowling alleys, museums.
  6. Podcasts: The rise of learning podsSpecial ed under pressure — Not enough laptops — The loss of learning.

The COVID-19 learning cliff

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Perhaps the most jarring reality of the COVID-19 pandemic for families has been the sudden and dramatic disruption to all levels of education, which is expected to have deep social and economic repercussions for years — if not decades — to come.

Why it matters: As millions of students are about to start the school year virtually, at least in part, experts fear students may fall off an educational cliff — missing key academic milestones, falling behind grade level and in some cases dropping out of the educational system altogether.

Postal slowdown threatens election breakdown

In 24 hours, signs of a pre-election postal slowdown have moved from the shadows to the spotlight, with evidence emerging all over the country that this isn't a just a potential threat, but is happening before our eyes.

Why it matters: If you're the Trump administration, and you're in charge of the federal government, remember that a Pew poll published in April found the Postal Service was viewed favorably by 91% of Americans.