Prior to the appearance of Farrar v. Tribune Publishing Co., it appeared reasonably clear that in defamation actions, evidence of the defendant's malice or good faith was not admissible for the purpose of enhancing or mitigating damages. Since malice is not an essential element of civil libel or slander, evidence of malice was considered immaterial and hence inadmissible under the Washington rule prohibiting punitive or exemplary damages. The actual malice of the defendant was considered relevant only in those actions which involved overcoming a qualified privilege. Farrar seems to have changed or at least obscured the clarity of these rules.
John H. Binns, Jr.,
Washington Case Law,
Torts—Evidence of Lack of Malice by Defendant to Mitigate Damage in Defamation Action,
37 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol37/iss2/18