NY Times fires back at defamation plaintiff with anti-SLAPP lawsuit

From Reuters:

The New York Times sued an anti-immigration author for the cost of defending itself against defamation in the first lawsuit of its kind under New York’s recently expanded “anti-SLAPP” law to protect critical speech.

The company is seeking unspecified fees spent fending off a 2020 lawsuit by Peter Brimelow, according to the company’s lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday.

Brimelow had sued the company over five articles published between January 2019 and May 2020 that described him as being “white nationalist” and his VDARE.com website as being “animated by race hatred.”

Brimelow said the lawsuit does not have merit. “This lawsuit, like the five articles at issue in the original litigation, is but another effort to raise the stakes against dissident (but desperately needed) voices,” he said in an email.

The Times said in a statement it was the first anti-SLAPP case by the company which it called an important step in protecting itself from defamation claims.

One of the five articles that Brimelow alleged was defamatory was originally published by Reuters and republished by the Times. Brimelow did not name Reuters in his lawsuit.

The lawsuit by Brimelow, who has said he thinks the United States is a white nation, was dismissed in December 2020 soon after New York expanded its anti-SLAPP law, which is meant to deter lawsuits that are designed to punish defendants for speaking out on public issues.

SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” and then-Governor Andrew Cuomo said the expanded law would protect free speech by preventing wealthy interests from using the court to bully their opponents.

The Times lawsuit is the first in which a defendant in a SLAPP case turned around and sued the plaintiffs after getting the case dismissed, according to Daniel Novack, an attorney who specializes in media law.

Link to the rest at Reuters

7 thoughts on “NY Times fires back at defamation plaintiff with anti-SLAPP lawsuit”

  1. As usual, I’m left to wonder whether the author really is “anti-immigration” or whether he’s anti-illegal-immigration. Even in today’s Amerika, there is a difference.

    • How could you even ask that? Don’t you know that if you disagree with the NYT on immigration (legal OR illegal), you MUST be a hate-filled, angry white nationalist?

      (Never mind that many non-white people do not like illegal immigration.)

  2. I always invert whatever a politician says about a new law. In this case, I would hear Cuomo’s statement as “protect favored narratives by enhancing the ability of well-heeled interests to bully their opponents.”

    I am very rarely wrong in what the actual intent of the legislation is.

    Of course, I am not sure that being labeled a “white nationalist” is a slur these days. It places the labeled person in such august company as Justice Clarence Thomas, Larry Elder, etc.

  3. There’s only one set of winners in a defamation action:

    The lawyers.

    And the culture of teh interwebs has just made things worse. In the old days, one could at least ask libraries to remove material that had been withdrawn by court order (not usually with much success, but at least the ability to ask was there); now, not so much, especially in the face of (a) the single-publication rule and (b) a lack of common decency that would have Sam the Eagle plucking out his feathers. (Admittedly, that last isn’t a very rigorous standard.) The rule of today is “If you don’t have anything nice to say… let’s hear it!

    • Also: “The Internet is forever.”

      The basic rule is: “Never say anything online you are not comfortable defending to your grave.”

      (In some cases people are saying things that will *take* them to the grave. And not just metaphorically. “

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