The right to free speech comes great responsibility.
The heavy-handed approach that China is taking to the "fake news" problem is fundamentally different than ours. What works for them cannot work for us. In the US, we have a long history of protected speech and we would not be where we are now if we didn't. We are a country of people from all parts of the world. Free speech is a fundamental tool we use to find common ground.
Obnoxious and repugnant forms of speech are protected -- for good reason -- in the United States. The purpose of free speech is to promote alternative view points and guarantee our liberty through discourse. That said, there are forms of speech that can be used to cause harm to others.
In the case United States v. Schenck (1919), Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used the concept that shouting "Fire" in a theater was not protected speech. Incitement to commit criminal acts, obscenity, and a few other very specific things are also not considered as protected speech.
Now, to the point, freedom of the press is also guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. It specifically codifies the right to publish without government restriction and subject only to the laws of libel, sedation, obscenity, and so on. Again, these laws are in place to guarantee our liberty.
Based on the summary above, I have a question:
All else equal, is a "fake news" article protected if it contains false information designed to scare or panic people into reading it for the purpose of profiting the writer?