UPDATES have been added below.
I spent yesterday conferring with lawyers about the smear that Greg Laden made against me (see here) that was compounded by it being reprinted and Tweeted at Climate progress by Joe Romm. I think Romm now realizes that he made a mistake by not checking out Laden’s claims before he printed it. He’s now added an update walking back from his position a bit, adding a link to WUWT and a note for his readers to see how Laden purposely twisted the story. He also needs to make a note about this walkback on Twitter, since his story went out to thousands that way. CP is equally culpable in this by not checking Laden’s claims before publishing.
After review yesterday, it seems that Laden’s actions in his original and follow up story meet the legal tests for “False Light“.
Generally speaking, a false light claim requires the following:
- The defendant published the information widely (i.e., not to just a single person, as in defamation);
- the publication identifies the plaintiff;
- it places the plaintiff in a “false light” that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and
- the defendant was at fault in publishing the information.
While False Light is not recognized in Minnesota (where Laden resides) it IS recognized in Washington DC, where National Geographic is headquartered, and according to our research, Nat Geo has assumed editorial control of ScienceBlogs.com where Mr. Laden placed his essay.
The District of Columbia recognizes the tort of “false light.” Plaintiffs can sue for false light when a false and offensive statement is made about them to the public and causes them distress. The specific things a plaintiff must prove are listed below under “Elements of a False Light Claim.”
Note how NatGeo’s yellow box logo is placed prominently in two places on the SB header:
So, with all of Laden’s written false claims saved, with clear and indisputable examples of Laden’s purposeful malice, plus other examples of malice in context, and an establishment of the location editorial control of the blog he published the false claims on, it seems there is enough to move forward.
The question is, should I make an example of him for all us who have suffered non factual smears such as he practices? Just like I did with the original story that Mr. Laden smeared me about, I’m going to put the question up for discussion by the readers.
UPDATE: I’ve been asked privately why I have chosen to elevate this case, where I did not in a far worse case of smear by Climate Progress regular, Mike Roddy, who along with his co-author, when I requested a factual correction to a smear piece, he put in not one, but two suggestions (plus a comment at CP) that I have sex with farm animals.
It stems from this piece Roddy wrote about me, see the “corrections” at the end, which he apparently agrees with:
Scroll all the way to the bottom to see the update.
I discussed this case with counsel yesterday, and we came to the conclusion that while most ‘reasonable people’ would likely not conclude that I’m a practitioner of bestiality due to the context of the story, in the case of Laden’s story, most reasonable people would conclude that Laden’s story as written was accurate, since he went to great lengths to conceal anything in his story that showed the caveats I placed. That’s the actionable distinction with a difference. – Anthony
UPDATE1: Wow, just wow.
UPDATE2: Hilarious logic fail, from a comment at Laden’s blog:
‘Kudos to Greg for demonstrating the openness of this blog by allowing the WUWT attack dogs to post their vitriolic bilge. No censorship here, wish the same could be said of Mr Watts and his cronies.
The denialists are committing crimes against humanity, surely it’s time for legislation to close these sites down’.
UPDATE 3: 8AM PST 1/21/13 – Thanks to everyone for all of the helpful input, and for responding to the poll. Using these, I’ve made my decision. Comments are now closed as well as the poll. – Anthony