from the try-us dept
Last week, we wrote about the truly ridiculous letter sent by Senate candidate Roy Moore’s nutty lawyer, Trenton Garmon, threatening to sue Alabama Media Group for defamation for daring to write about reports of Moore’s sketchy behavior towards girls and young women. In that piece, we noted that AMG made it clear it wasn’t going to back down, noting that it stood behind its reporting and the threats only made the news organization that much more interested in “doggedly” pursuing the truth. Now, as pointed out on Boing Boing, we see the official response from Alabama Media Group’s lawyer, John G. Thompson Jr.
Suffice it to say, Thompson doesn’t have much time for Garmon’s nonsense:
You have (now twice) threatened to sue AMG and AL.com concerning AL.com’s recent reporting about Roy Moore, Kayla Moore, and their Foundation for Moral Law. You have accused AL.com of making “false reports and/or careless reporting” about multiple subjects related to your clients. Your letter demands that AL.com retract and recant its prior stories and that it “cease and desist” from any further reporting about your clients.
AL.com hereby rejects your demand. AL.com stands by its reporting regarding all of the matters addressed in your letter. AL.com has reported on newsworthy matters of significant public concern regarding your clients. Roy Moore is now, and for decades has been, a public figure. He is now running for a seat in the United States Senate. He is asking people of Alabama to financially support his campaign and his Foundation (headed by Mrs. Moore), and to vote for him. Alabamians — for that matter, all Americans — have a right to know about the individuals who wish to represent them in public office. Like every political candidate, Mr. Moore is subject to scrutiny and analysis by the media and the general public regarding his fitness for public office. AL.com’s reporting has provided the public with important information directly relevant to that inquiry.
You accuse AL.com of defamation in purely conclusory fashion. You have not explained how anything that AL.com reported is untrue, inaccurate, or erroneous, nor do you provide any support for your position. You have also not shown that AL.com reported any of its stories with actual malice, as you know you must because your clients are public figures (a point you have admitted in in recent television interviews). To the contrary, an ever-increasing torrent of accusers and journalist investigators have publicly verified the facts reported by AL.com.
Nice, simple and to the point. While there’s no doubt that Moore is a public figure (which requires the higher “actual malice” bar for defamation), it’s a nice little jab to point out that Garmon himself admitted that during a TV interview.
From there, Thompson points out that any damage to Moore’s reputation comes from Moore’s actions, not AL.com’s accurate reporting:
Your letter goes on to say that AL.com’s reporting has harmed Mr. Moore’s reputation. Mr. Moore, however, has quite a colorful past that long-preceded any of AL.com’s recent coverage of your clients. Moreover, much of the information that you claim harmed Mr. Moore’s reputation had already been published by those who know him personally and reported by other media outlets. In other words, any damage to Mr. Moore’s reputation was self-inflicted and had already occurred long before AL.com’s recent reporting.
And, from there, we get to the “and if you do go through with this, we’ll hit back harder than you’d like” part of the letter, in which AMG says that it’ll move for Rule 11 sanctions for frivolous filings, and also demand that the Moores’ need to preserve any documents for any countersuit effort.
For these and other reasons, we strongly believe that any lawsuit of the type you threaten would be frivolous, and could not be brought in good faith. Should your clients nevertheless decide to pursue this matter further, AL.com will vigorously defend itself, and will employ all available remedies, including a Rule 11 motion if warranted. We are confident that litigation would not only demonstrate that Al.com exercised the utmost diligence and employed high journalistic standards in reporting these stories, but would also reveal other important information about your clients.
That last line is basically “Look, we all know that Moore doesn’t want to go through discovery on this…”
We are hereby putting your clients on notice of their duty to preserve and maintain all materials, documents, writings, recordings statements, notes, letters, journals, diaries, calendars, emails, photographs, videos, computers, cell phones, electronic data, and other information that is or could remotely be relevant in any manner to any of the claims that you have made. These include, but are not limited to, all materials and information related to Mr. Moore’s history of romantic relationships or physical encounters (whether consensual or not); your clients’ fundraising, compensation, and finances; and Mr. Moore’s speaking engagements, travel arrangements, and other expenses. As you know, failure to preserve any such materials may expose your clients to sanctions.
Reading this letter, you almost get the sense that Alabama Media Group would quite enjoy getting sued by Moore…