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.

Filed Under: charles harder, defamation, donald trump, gabriel sherman, peter thiel, roger ailes
Companies: ny magazine


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 8:55am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2016 @ 8:55am

    What makes Peter Thiel think he's going to live forever, let alone past 55, with skin that thin?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 9:14am

    That's why you need to place the obligation of bearing the costs in the prosecution if the defense wins while allowing both the defendant and the prosecution to use public resources while the case is not concluded. Once you level the playing field these types of thin skinned morons will think twice before filling a lawsuit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    streetlight, 6 Sep 2016 @ 9:20am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 9:28am

    "For certain people, after fifty, litigation takes the place of sex."
    - Gore Vidal

    Oh, sure. *NOW* Roger Ailes switches to litigation. If he'd done it at age fifty he wouldn't have been fired over sexual harassment claims in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 9:50am

    Another Attack on Investigative Reporting

    Gawker yesterday, New York Magazine today, and Techdirt tomorrow.

    The rich and powerful make it a priority to control information.

    The masses need unbiased, critical journalism to be able to make informed decisions. Unfortunately that's a threat to the powers that be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 9:52am

    He must have a really child like mentality to go out of his way to hurt people that say mean things about him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 9:53am

    Or What a baby thiel is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2016 @ 11:47am

    NY Mag didn't even publish a Roger Ailes sex tape or anything

    Oh thank the good lord.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 12:02pm

    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".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 3:40pm

    Thiel

    So.... Do we know if Peter Thiel is funding this too?* He is a Trump fan after all.

    *Is there even a way to find out (legally)?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Sep 2016 @ 8:58pm

      Re: Thiel

      Well you could just ask him, I mean given how upfront he was with his funding of the lawsuits against Gawker I'm sure he'd have no problem giving a solid yes/no if someone asked him if he was backing this one too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 2:37am

    Remember when we said money was speech, yes, about that...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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