Gawker has responded to Charles C. Johnson‘s defamation lawsuit against him. In a nutshell: they want the case tossed and they’re using his press to slam him as an unsavory character.
With the DOJ’s latest report on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), which states that “corroborating evidence supports” that Menendez really was involved with underage hookers, Gawker may have a hard time proving one of their largest contentions — which is that Johnson’s livelihood is publishing stories that are wrong and that personally attack people.
By the way, Gawker never personally attacks anyone.
Gawker, which is currently embroiled in a $100 million lawsuit from Hulk Hogan for running 100 seconds of a sex tape, has filed a motion to dismiss Johnson’s case based on an anti-SLAPP statute. They also want Johnson to pay for the company’s legal fees.
Gawker claims, essentially, that Johnson is full of shit.
“The Complaint is based entirely on opinions and cherry-picked text which, when put in context, is plainly not defamatory,” says their memorandum. “Rather, this case is a transparent attempt to punish embarrassing — but fully legal — reporting.”
The site explained why Johnson’s case lacks merit.
They say that Johnson filing in Missouri is completely ridiculous because “neither the Plaintiffs or Defendants have any relevant connection to Missouri.” If the court doesn’t dismiss the case, they want it transferred to New York or California because those locations would be way more convenient.
(Judges always love it when people complain about being inconvenienced.)
Gawker also says the rumors they published about Johnson — that he shit the floor in the college, that he bragged about urinating in his girlfriend’s mouth, that he fucked a sheep — cast doubt on to whether they are true.
They refer to the rumors as “humorous” and say the nature of the content “suggests that they should not be taken seriously.” (You can wade through more of that funny stuff here.)
They argue that Johnson was a controversial figure long before Gawker got to him.
“Plaintiffs’ proactive journalism has in turn attracted an avalanche of criticism, both with respect to the quality of his reporting and his character, long before the first Gawker piece was published,” they wrote.
The Gawker response includes a lengthy list of stories from other publications, including one from yours truly on Johnson’s “libel jihad against the media.” They also mention articles by other journalists such as WaPo‘s Dave Weigel and BuzzFeed‘s Rosie Gray. They also — embarrassingly — include a link to a story by Wonkette, the nation’s most illiterate website. Such a shame too since it used to be such a must-read site when Ana Marie Cox was at the helm. Wonkette called Johnson the “human equivalent of toxic sludge,” which is the height of irony. They make no mention that the site’s publisher Rebecca Schoenkopf writes while drunk and lies her ass off.
Gawker says Johnson provoked his own media attention.
“Johnson, a self-proclaimed ‘revoultionary’ of internet journalism, naturally provoked a public controversy over his own journalism and career,” states the memorandum. “…Indeed, journalists whose reporting or conduct becomes the subject of controversy are regularly held to be public figures.”
Johnson was largely unimpressed with Gawker‘s response.
“The Gawker response was much weaker than I expected,” he told The Mirror. “It doesn’t rebut any of the substantive claims we make rebutting their libelous claims. They seem to be actually arguing that no one should take their bullshit blogging seriously. The problem is that thousands of people do.
“Rather hilariously their attorneys have decided to smear me again by claiming that my Senator Menendez story is discredited. The same day they filed that the Department of Justice confirmed everything I reported with Matt Boyle and David Martosko years ago.
“Gawker’s lawyers haven’t done their homework but they sure know how to Google. In another example they recycle stories that claim that I outed a rape victim at UVA when we all now know what I knew then that there was no rape at UVA.
“In still another bullshit claim they are saying that because I have contemplated legal action against a number of media organizations for making things up against me, I’m not to be trusted. They don’t take seriously what is obvious: I probably could successful sue a number of these organizations for making things up about me. I just hope that Gawker settles with me before Hulk Hogan — or one of the several other gawker victims — takes all of their money.”
Full disclosure: Johnson is a previous contributor to The Daily Caller. The Mirror never worked with Johnson on any stories for the publication. I arrived in October, 2013. He was out at the start of 2014.