Rex vs. Zenger: The Foundation of the free press. John Peter Zenger printed The New York Weekly Journal, a newspaper that criticized and satirically mocked Royal Governor William Cosby. Zenger was charged with seditious libel and expected to be found guilty as the truth was no defense in English common law. Zenger’s lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, contrived a novel defense that Zenger printed the truth, so no libel had been committed and the jury had the duty to judge the law as well as the fact. The jury acquitted Zenger, setting the precedent that in America, the truth is a defense.