The McClatchy Company is responding to Central Valley Congressman Devin Nunes $150 million dollar lawsuit against the company and Mair Strategies, a company based out of Virginia.
The 43-page lawsuit which was filed on Monday states the company and Mair Strategies tried to defame and destroy Nunes reputation in an article that was published by The Fresno Bee in May.
The complaint claims the story was incorrect, misleading and a smear.
Former Federal Judge Oliver Wanger said Nunes will need to prove the company was malice when publishing those articles.
“It’s a challenging lawsuit to have undertaken but he obviously feels harmed that people are for political reason are going after him this is one of the ways he’s responding,” Wanger said
The complaint stated The Fresno Bee article was re-published online and retweeted and posted on the internet multiple times, the story “travelled through social media like wildfire.”
“He must show that malice which means either knowledge of falsity of whatever was said about him or reckless disregard of the truth,” Wagner said.
Congressman Jim Costa said he hadn’t spoke to Nunes about the lawsuit.
“I don’t think his chance of winning those lawsuits are very good and I think Devin is a smart guy and I’m sure he’s getting good legal advice so it seems to me he must be doing it for other reasons,” Costa said.
The McClatchy Company reacting to the lawsuit on Tuesday releasing a statement to Your Central Valley.
We understand that Representative Nunes filed a lawsuit yesterday in Charlottesville, Virginia, claiming defamation against McClatchy, based on a story published by his hometown news source, The Fresno Bee.
The lawsuit represents a baseless attack on local journalism and a free press. At a time when local journalism is facing more pressing and urgent challenges, the lawsuit is an unproductive distraction and a misuse of the judicial system.
Representative Nunes declined the opportunity to talk to reporters from The Fresno Bee last year about his investment in the Alpha Omega Winery, the subject of his claim. Hopefully, he will provide such answers during the litigation.
Moreover, while he filed his lawsuit in the state of Virginia, California law applies to this case and it outlines steps to demand corrections for the benefit of any individual who feels he or she has been libeled. In the over ten months since the winery article appeared, Mr. Nunes
has not once availed himself of the statute by writing to the Fresno Bee to demand that it publish a correction to any statement made about him. He did however find the time to produce a video and a 40-page mailer distributed to constituents attacking The Fresno
Bee and its coverage of the Alpha Omega winery case.
Logically, California is a more appropriate location to try this case since Mr. Nunes represents a constituency in California, McClatchy is based in California — for 162 years — and The Fresno Bee is the Representative’s hometown newsroom. We find it ironic that, rather than sue
in his home district, he chose Charlottesville as the location for his suit, a town associated with Thomas Jefferson, a founding father who was a strong advocate of the First Amendment.