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Fox News and others are botching the reporting on the newest development of the ongoing case of Dr. Michael Mann vs. the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Review Online and one of its writers, Mark Steyn. Two of the few to get it right are Paul Krugman at the New York Times and syndicated columnist Gene Lyons.

On August 11th, the American Civil Liberties Union and a number of major media organizations filed an amici curiae brief in support of the defendants. Unsurprisingly, they argue that free speech shouldn't have any constraints, even if it's defamatory, stating, "the judicial system should not be the arbiter of either scientific truth or correct public policy." Conservative media are reporting this as though Dr. Mann is simply upset at being criticized, which is completely wrong.

As Greg Laden points out, the suit is not about scientific criticism, but rather "a very specific and actionable libelous accusation of professional misconduct." Previous courts agreed that this is a valid case, that Steyn's accusations of fraud and manipulation of data aren't just opinion, but an (incorrect) statement of fact. Saying that a scientist is "the Jerry Sandusky of climate science" is an opinion, and not what Dr. Mann is suing over, even though Fox News suggests it is. Instead, the accusation that he "molested and tortured data" is clearly not an opinion on the man or the issue but a claim that many studies reaffirming Mann's findings have shown to be false.

Fortunately for Dr. Mann, the arguments brought up in the brief have already been addressed in previous filings, suggesting that these complaints will again be overruled, allowing the case to continue.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the legal issue now is can a SLAPP be immediately (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Stwriley, Mokurai

    appealled.

    Most states with a SLAPP act, allow an immediate appeal
    to the appellate courts.

    DC is unusual in that the wording of the statute didn't
    seem to allow that.

    This case has been in procedural hell for 3 years, of course
    it makes a great read for a Civil Procedure final exam.

  •  Shame on the ACLU! (4+ / 0-)

    One of the reasons I dropped my support for the ACLU is because of the absurd levels they take their CLAIMS of supporting free speech, such as their support for Citizens United.

    Take a look at the slanderous attacks on Dr. Mann.  The Right Wing has no concern over the accuracy of Dr. Mann's science, their entire purpose is to discredit Dr. Mann, and to limit HIS right to free speech.

    While the right wing can buy all the free speech they want by owning newspapers, TV and radio networks, people who don't have access to such resources have to resort to legitimate news outlets in order to have their free speech heard.  The right wing, in their efforts to slander Dr. Mann, are trying to limit his access to those media, and thus his right to free speech.

    In a convoluted way, the ACLU is actually limiting the free speech of those who use legitimate news outlets as their microphone, while they are protecting a large propaganda network who's entire outlet for speech is controlled by a few Oligarchs.

    Shame on the ACLU!

    •  Have to Agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pollwatcher, codairem

      And I have been a member of ACLU for as long as I can remember. But this is patently ridiculous, if true, and is bad enough it will probably cause me to stop paying my membership fees and contributing every year.

      "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

      by HeartlandLiberal on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 07:57:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The defendants are abusing the SLAPP (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MJ via Chicago, codairem, Mokurai

    law. A SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit to Prevent Public Participation. Mann's libel suit isn't that. It's a suit addressing actually libelous accusations that have already been published. The defendants knew or should have known that their allegations of professional misconduct were not true.
       The claim has been made by some of the news organizations that Mann is a public figure (which brings the Sullivan ruling into play.) But the only reason Man is a public figure IS BECAUSE THE DENIALIST INDUSTRY FOCUSED ON HIM PERSONALLY. If not for all the BS directed at him, Mann would be just another climate scientist.
      But even under Sullivan, there is no immunity for malice.

    •  I agree, dallasdunlap. (0+ / 0-)

      In Georgia, if you are white--then acting the fool with a gun is not only legal, it is encouraged by the governor and the state legislature.

      by Mayfly on Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 09:34:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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