from the not-how-it-works... dept
The key issue? Some news sites out there interpreted part of her book to be her admitting to sexually abusing her little sister as a baby. These claims appear to be rather overblown. Various experts appear to agree that nothing Dunham did comes close to actual sexual abuse.
Still, it appears that Dunham has at least threatened one site, TruthRevolt, for writing just such a story. She demanded a retraction and a (pre-written) apology. TruthRevolt, wisely, refused. Instead, it just reprinted the text from Dunham's own book that highlights the basis for the site's original post. Ken "Popehat" White has the excellent explanation of the legal ridiculousness of Dunham's lawyers' threats:
Of course, White has an alternative theory as to why all of this is happening as well:
If Ms. Dunham is alleging that the original Truth Revolt article about her is defamatory, she is wrong — unless it has deliberately and extensively misquoted her book. Truth Revolt has admitted that the article originally and incorrectly said that she was 17, not 7, when one of the incidents described took place. But absent proof that Truth Revolt made that misstatement intentionally, that's incompetence, not the actual malice required to prove up defamation of a public figure like Ms. Dunham.
Truth Revolt's characterization of Ms. Dunham's memoir is not defamation. It's classic opinion based on specific disclosed facts. You might think that Truth Revolt's interpretation of Dunham's stories of her conduct with her sister is irrational, or unfair, or politically biased, or cruel. That doesn't make it defamatory. If I linked to one of Ben Shapiro's articles and said "this article proves that Ben Shapiro is a secret lizard person sent by Obama to discredit conservatives," that wouldn't be defamation either. It might be crazy, but it's my statement of opinion based on Shapiro's own words. If Truth Revolt had said "people have told me that Lena Dunham molested her sister" or "I have reviewed documents that suggest to me that Lena Dunham molested her sister," that would be different — that would be a statement of fact, or a statement of opinion based on undisclosed facts.
Her threat, and her reaction to the coverage, are likely to trigger the Streisand Effect, driving orders of magnitude more eyes to the characterizations of her memoir. She's media-savvy enough that I can't help but wonder whether that's her intention in the first place. It will sell books.Given that this is the second time she's appeared in these pages, and both times it's about threatening some random blog for highlighting her own words and mocking them... that theory is seems to have a fair bit of support.