President Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has made waves with his announcement that he is suing McClatchy News Service, owners of The Fresno Bee, and Never Trump Republican political consultant Liz Mair for $150 million for conspiring to defame him. “McClatchy, Mair and Mair Strategies engaged in a joint scheme the unlawful purpose of which was to destroy Nunes’ personal and professional reputations, advance the goals of the dark money behind the paid-for smear campaign, interfere with Nunes’ duties as a United States Congressman, and influence the outcome of a federal election,” the suit claims.
Nunes is particularly incensed over an inflammatory article published on May 23, 2018 by The Fresno Bee that featured the lurid headline “A yacht, cocaine, prostitutes: Winery partly owned by Nunes sued after fundraiser event.” The Epoch Times details the numerous distortions of facts to be found in the article. In 2015, the Alpha Omega Winery held a charity event and auctioned off a cruise on the company’s boat. A group of men purchased the cruise and then brought prostitutes and drugs on board with them. The Bee’s report termed the charity auction a “fundraiser” in what Nunes believes is a deliberate attempt to make the event sound political. His lawsuit states that the article reported that it was “unclear… if [Nunes] was… affiliated with the fundraiser” in a further attempt to tie him in with the events on board the yacht.
A disturbing account of the charity auction winners’ misbehavior fills the first several paragraphs of The Bee article. The reader must wait until the 13th paragraph to learn that Nunes purchased shares worth “between $50,000 and $100,000” in the winery and the 21st paragraph to learn that Nunes is only one of more than 50 investors. He stated he made a grand profit of “between $2,501 and $5,000” from the winery in 2016, the Bee eventually reports. There is even a gratuitous mention of Russian clients of the winery tossed in as an obvious nod to the Trump Russia collusion narrative.
A San Jose Mercury News article published the following day revealed the utter absurdity of The Bee article. “Nunes is an investor in the winery but there’s nothing to suggest he was aboard the yacht on the night in question,” the paper reported. Imagine if Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) owned a small share of a restaurant in which a sexual assault had tragically occurred. Would Mercury News feel the need to report “there is nothing to suggest that Sanders was standing right there when the rape occurred?” The statement would certainly be accurate, but the association would be completely pointless from an information-gathering perspective.
So is this just a politician angry over a hatchet job by a biased media outlet, or does Nunes have an actual legal case? On the question of defamation itself, LN Legal Affairs Editor Scott D. Cosenza, Esq. said:
“Mr. Nunes’ suit has all the hallmarks of an attempt to grab headlines, not pursue a genuine defamation claim in court. Public figures, such as members of Congress, must meet a higher standard than others to recover for defamation. Instead of merely proving a statement was false, they must prove the statements made were done so with “actual malice” – that they knew the statement was false or didn’t care either way. Nunes’ complaint falls so far short of the mark; it is doubtful ever to see a trial, if that was his goal, which seems unlikely.”
Destroyed By Their Own Delusions
Regardless of the merits of the suit, one has to wonder just why a mainstream newspaper like The Fresno Bee and its powerful owners McClatchy would be so willing to sacrifice basic standards of journalism in a laborious effort to link Nunes to an incident that sober-minded readers will immediately dismiss as having nothing whatsoever to do with him.
The fact is that, somewhere along the way, liberals stopped caring about having a strong argument and decided “winning” the 24-hour news cycle is what matters most. This is certainly fueled to a large degree by a total misunderstanding of the Trump Phenomenon. In their delusions, which stroke their personal political biases, they see Trump as solely a pop culture “happening” and refuse to acknowledge that his supporters actually agree with his stated beliefs on issues like immigration, protecting American jobs, and ending overseas military adventurism. They try to defeat the Trump “fad” with bogus viral stories like this Nunes article instead of coming up with real policy positions of their own to persuade the American people who support Trump that he is wrong on the issues.
It is sad to see deranged liberals gleefully relishing the distortion of fake news like this sleazy Nunes article. They truly see this as “winning”:
He does not like it.
Thank you. #YachtCocaineProstitutes
— andy lassner (@andylassner) April 9, 2019
Democrats and their media cohorts are completely obsessed with the comforting notion that Trump is “conning” the people, and apparently they believe the way to combat this is to come up with flagrant manipulations of their own. By doing so, they are annihilating their own reputations and standing with the general public. Blinded by their simplistic Trump caricature, they cannot even feel their own self-immolation.
A Winter 2019 Columbia Journalism Review/Reuters/Ipsos poll found 60% of those surveyed “believe reporters get paid by their sources sometimes or very often.” These respondents are not merely saying the press cannot be trusted. They are saying the press is ethically bankrupt. This is the harvest reaped by a corrupt media when they transparently smear politicians they do not like with no regard at all for accuracy or newsworthiness.
Devin Nunes may not destroy McClatchy with his multi-million-dollar lawsuit. But then he doesn’t have to. The news service and its fellow biased media comrades are most assuredly taking care of that themselves. In the pursuit of self-satisfying 24-hour news cycle “triumphs,” the so-called mainstream media are forfeiting every last dwindling shred of respect they may still hold with the American people.