Fox News joined a group of 35 media organizations in asking a circuit court to throw out a defamation lawsuit Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes filed against reporter Ryan Lizza and Hearst Magazines in 2019.
In the lawsuit, Nunes alleged that an article Lizza wrote for Esquire in 2018 caused “injury to his good name and professional reputation” because it claimed that Nunes’ family’s farm employed illegal immigrants and detailed its move from California to Iowa. He requested $77 million in compensation and punitive damages. A district court judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2020, ruling that none of Nunes’ claims supported a defamation ruling. (RELATED: Devin Nunes Files Racketeering Lawsuit Against Fusion GPS)
After a circuit court panel revived the lawsuit, a group of media organizations submitted an amicus brief Wednesday calling on the entire circuit court to side with Lizza. In addition to Fox News, signers of the brief include The Atlantic, The New York Times and Vox.
A ruling in favor of Nunes “could create havoc for not just news publishers, but all distributors of content,” the news organizations wrote, by “incentivizing meritless libel litigation by giving public-official and public-figure plaintiffs the power to effectively deter anyone from repeating a disfavored statement by filing a lawsuit denying its truth.”
In an important media case, Reuters and other news organizations have filed a brief in Devin Nunes v Ryan Lizza arguing that Lizza tweeting out a link to a story after Nunes’ lawsuit was filed does not mean that the story was “republished” in the context of a defamation claim pic.twitter.com/gs4gidCcmG
— Lawrence Hurley (@lawrencehurley) October 21, 2021
The brief touches on previous court rulings involving hyperlinks and Nunes’ denial of the facts of the story.
Nunes has filed multiple defamation lawsuits in recent years against McClatchy, NBCUniversal and Twitter. The McClatchy suit was dismissed after the media conglomerate declared bankruptcy, but Nunes is appealing to have it reinstated.