Daily Mail and blogger’s retractions are not enough to avoid libel lawsuit being filed
Same lawyer behind the lawsuit against Gawker Media is representing Melania Trump in latest lawsuit, which centers on articles published in August that were based on a book about the presidential candidate’s wife
The lawyer representing Melania Trump followed though on his threat and filed a lawsuit against the he Maryland-based publisher of the Daily Mail Online and the blogger Webster Tarpley. The lawyer, Charles Harder, was the lead attorney in the Hulk Hogan case against Gawker Media, and just last week threatened several US websites, leading to several retractions, incluing on the websites of those being sued.
“Mrs. Trump has placed several news organizations on notice of her legal claims against them, including Daily Mail among others, for making false and defamatory statements about her supposedly having been an “escort” in the 1990s,” Charles Harder told Politico last week. “All such statements are 100% false, highly damaging to her reputation, and personally hurtful. She understands that news media have certain leeway in a presidential campaign, but outright lying about her in this way exceeds all bounds of appropriate news reporting and human decency.”
Most of the websites which ran details from the story that originated on tarpley.net retracted their story after being contacted by Harder, including tarpley.net.
The Daily Mail waited until yesterday to post a retraction, which included are restatement of the claims, and a reminder that the UK newspaper and the US website are separate businesses.
“To the extent that anything in the Daily Mail’s article was interpreted as stating or suggesting that Mrs. Trump worked as an ‘escort’ or in the ‘sex business,’ that she had a ‘composite or presentation card for the sex business,’ or that either of the modeling agencies referenced in the article were engaged in these businesses, it is hereby retracted, and the Daily Mail newspaper regrets any such misinterpretation.
The Daily Mail newspaper and MailOnline/DailyMail.com have entirely separate editors and journalistic teams.
In so far as MailOnline/DailyMail.com published the same article it wholeheartedly also retracts the above and also regrets any such misinterpretation.’
The retractions were not enough for Harder, however, who filed suit in state court in Montgomery County, Maryland.
“These defendants made several statements about Mrs. Trump that are 100% false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation. Defendants broadcast their lies to millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world—without any justification,” Harder said in a statement.
“Their many lies include, among others, that Mrs. Trump supposedly was an ‘escort’ in the 1990s before she met her husband. Defendants’ actions are so egregious, malicious and harmful to Mrs. Trump that her damages are estimated at $150 million.”
Tarpley issued his own statement in response to the lawsuit:
“Melania Trump’s lawsuit against me is without merit. Mrs. Trump is a public figure actively engaged in the Trump for president campaign. We are confident that Mrs. Trump will not be able to meet her high burden of proving the statements published about her on my website were defamatory in any way. Her lawsuit is a blatant attempt to intimidate not only me but journalists of all stripes into remaining silent with regard to public figures. This lawsuit is a direct affront to First Amendment principles and free speech in our democratic society.”
Tarpley (below) is a critic of Trump and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, accusing the Republicans of promoting austerity policies. His Wikipedia page states that the author once worked for Lyndon LaRouche and is a believer that ” the September 11 attacks were engineered by a rogue network of the Military–industrial complex and intelligence agencies as a false flag operation.” He is also a critic of Barack Obama, calling him a tool of Wall Street (which is his real focus of his political activities).
As for the man suing Tarpley and DailyMail.com. Harder is famous for being the lead attorney in the Hulk Hogan-Gawker Media lawsuit when resulted in a massive jury award and the subsequent bankruptcy and sale of Gawker Media. Harder, part of Harder Mirell & Abrams LLP, a firm that has many Hollywood clients such as Halle Berry, George Clooney and Clint Eastwood.
The lawsuit against Gawker Media was funded, it was later discovered, by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who was invited to speak at the Trump run Republican National Convention. Whether Thiel, or Donald Trump, is funding this lawsuit is unknown at this time.
Harder and Trump were, apparently, brought together by Thiel. Gawker said in a story before it went under, that they had been threatened with a lawsuit over a story it ran regarding Trump’s hair.
“Last week, Thiel’s lawyer-for-hire, Charles J. Harder, sent Gawker a letter on behalf of Ivari International’s owner and namesake, Edward Ivari, in which Harder claims that Feinberg’s story was “false and defamatory,” invaded Ivari’s privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed “tortious interference” with Ivari’s business relations. Harder enumerates 19 different purportedly defamatory statements—almost all of which were drawn from several publicly available lawsuits filed against Ivari,” J.K. Trotter wrote in June.
“Harder’s demands included the immediate removal of the story from Gawker, a public apology, the preservation of “all physical and electronic documents, materials and data in your possession” related to the story, and, notably, that we reveal our sources. “