Roger Ailes Hires Peter Thiel's Favorite Lawyer To Threaten NY Mag For Its Stories About Him

from the just-don't-publish-sex-tapes,-they-said... dept

Remember how lots of people (including plenty of you right here) were saying that it was no big deal that Gawker was shut down due to a campaign financed by Peter Thiel? Remember how people said it wouldn’t mean any harm for anyone else as long as they “don’t publish someone’s sex tape?” Remember how we pointed out that Thiel’s funding campaign included plenty of other lawsuits that had nothing to do with sex tapes? Yeah, about that. It appears that Thiel’s favorite lawyer, Charles Harder, who he apparently helped set up in his own law firm with ongoing support for a variety of cases to take down Gawker, has now become the go-to lawyer for another famous hater of media: Donald Trump and his friends. Trump, of course, has repeatedly publicly stated that he has sued a reporter just to cost him money. So, Trump and Harder seem perfect together.

Last week, Harder, representing Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, sued The Daily Mail and a random blogger in Maryland, claiming defamation. The inclusion of the blogger was weird, but many are saying it was to get the specific jurisdiction they wanted, in Maryland (where anti-SLAPP laws can’t be used).

And now it appears that Harder has another big name client closely connected to Trump: former Fox News boss Roger Ailes has apparently hired Charles Harder to threaten New York Magazine with defamation claims. If you’re not aware, one of the top reporters for NY Magazine is Gabriel Sherman, who has written extensively about Ailes, including an entire book about Ailes. More recently, Sherman has been basically the go-to source for anything having to do with the litany of sexual harassment claims made about Ailes, including being the first to report on Megyn Kelly’s statements to investigators that Ailes had allegedly sexually harassed her, and a massive recent story on “the Fox News women” who took down Ailes.

Ailes has apparently gone on the offensive, having some high-profile lawyers basically start a ridiculous smear campaign against Sherman, which not only seems to call more attention to Sherman’s reporting, but also makes Ailes and his friends look desperate. And, of course, the latest move is apparently to hire Harder to threaten New York Magazine and Sherman, because Harder is now making quite a reputation for himself as the guy to go to when you want to burden publications with questionable legal claims.

And NY Mag didn’t even publish a Roger Ailes sex tape or anything.

NY Magazine notes (not surprisingly) that the threat letter from Harder didn’t include specifics, but rather just asked the publication to retain information for a possible legal action. In other words, it feels like a pretty empty threat.

But, once again, we’re reminded of why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law. Thin-skinned billionaires (and not billionaires) are finding it way too easy to burden publications with bogus defamation claims these days.

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Companies: ny magazine

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Comments on “Roger Ailes Hires Peter Thiel's Favorite Lawyer To Threaten NY Mag For Its Stories About Him”

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14 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If only there were some punishment for lawyers pulling these sorts of stunts. Including tangentially involved people to find a favorable place to abuse the law. Empty threats backed with limitless bankrolls, can deter people from saying anything negative about the rich.

Of course this won’t matter or be dealt with until 1 powerful person screws up and takes on another just as powerful person (or someone backed by power). Everyone else will just have to wait for this to bite someone important enough in the ass until something changes.

streetlight (profile) says:

Gretchen Carlson get $20 from Fox News

Maybe off topic but Fox News has settled with Gretchen Carlson for $20 million as a result of the Roger Ailes situation. See http://www.bbc.com/news/business-37287123

The situation described in the OP may be somewhat different from the Fox New business but respectable journals/journalists are likely to be very careful in how they write their stories in order to avoid defamation accusations.

And as far as Ailes is concerned, maybe he should just stop digging that hole he’s been working on.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Time to update the saying

Remember how people said it wouldn’t mean any harm for anyone else as long as they “don’t publish someone’s sex tape?”

To jump to the end and avoid constant revisions due to the many, many lawsuits of this type that will be cropping up now that they’ve been proven to be effective the saying should be changed to “Don’t publish anything that someone with enough money doesn’t want published”.

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