The Mirror

Charles Johnson Plans Libel Lawsuit Jihad On Media

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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It’s raining Charles Johnson in the media these days. Despite how exhausting that all is, he couldn’t be more thrilled about all the attention and page views coming his way at GotNews, a site that promises a fearless, f–k you style of reporting.

But to those journalists who he believes have slimed him — or worse, libeled him — watch out. He’s got a lawyer. “I’m not the least bit upset about it,” he told The Mirror in a Wednesday phone conversation regarding stories on him that he detests. “Then I can go after all the journalists all at once for libeling me.”

Johnson has a list and since it’s almost Christmas, he’s checking it 17 times. On it are The Washington Examiner and Eddie Scarry, for the piece published Wednesday on how conservative journalists regard Johnson. Which, according to Scarry’s story, is not well. Also on the lawsuit black list are: Gawker, Deadspin, Rosie Gray and BuzzFeed.

Scarry declined to comment on his story. His editor, Mark Tapscott, also declined to comment. Gray also did not provide a comment.

If all goes Johnson’s way — and let’s face it, few journalists think a lawsuit like this has legs —  that’s potentially a lot of insurance money.

But he reasons, “James O’Keefe has successfully sued journalists for being libelous against him in the past.”

Johnson said he spoke to his lawyer about a future lawsuit Wednesday, pointedly sending him the Examiner story. I asked for the name of his lawyer, which he provided. He’s Michael Barnes out of Santa Monica, Calif. I attempted to speak to Barnes, who said he’d only agree to speak to me if our conversation was “on background.” Johnson told me he’s “very private.” Considering that I already know his name and felt that it needed to be reported, it would be difficult to agree to an “on background” chat with his attorney and then quote him using vague sourcing. So I declined.

Some facts on Barnes: He’s primarily an entertainment lawyer based in an office on Wilshire Blvd. His website describes him as the lead attorney and deal-runner on five motion picture acquisitions. His firm specializes in repping actors, writers, directors and athletes. Variety dubbed him “Dealmaker of the Year” for 2010.

Johnson assures that he’s gathering materials for him.

“There are many in the establishment right that I have been collecting material on for quite sometime,” he said. “As time goes on, the more I’ve had the ‘Mean Girls’ approach, the more it helps me politically. There are serious damages. I was correct in the Cory Booker claim.”

That last jab involves a story Johnson wrote for The Daily Caller claiming that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) never lived in Newark and was believed to have lived in New York. Johnson claims he approached both his supposed homes and the only inhabitants were cops using it as a kind of neighborhood watch center. BuzzFeed’s Gray, however, lobbed a few hand grenades Johnson’s way that included copies of rent checks from Booker and property documents showing that he reportedly lived in Newark. Johnson shrugs off her reporting as BuzzFeed being fed by the Booker camp.

Ultimately how many publications does Johnson plan to sue?

“As many publications as my attorney sees fit,” he said, noting that the Examiner story “relies on false information. He’s quoting all these people anonymously. The Washington Examiner and BuzzFeed are definitely in the mix.”

He seems to forget Deadspin, who wondered if he shit on the floor in college after Johnson himself alluded to the accusation that has dogged him in the past. He quickly replied, “Oh, Deadspin for sure and Gawker.”

For the record, Johnson says he did not shit on the floor.

RELATED: Please see this recent story on unrealized defamation law suits by Charles Johnson here.