24 Media Organizations Oppose Defamation Suit Waged by Climate Scientist
Twenty-four media organizations, including The Washington Post, NBC Universal, and Fox News, have sided with the conservative National Review and free market-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) over a defamation lawsuit brought by a leading climate scientist.
The organizations, which also included the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia, were signatories to a Feb. 13, letter filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in which both the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute requested a rehearing of their case before the full appeals court.
In December 2018, a three-judge panel amended a previous ruling against them. But according to the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, which represents the two-dozen media groups, a full rehearing of the case is now “warranted.”
“The panel’s decision on the merits of plaintiff’s defamation claim … may have unintended and undesirable consequences in future cases implicating the exercise of amici’s right to freedom of speech and of the press,” attorneys for the Reporters Committee stated.
The letter also said that if a rehearing is granted, the Reporters Committee would file a new amicus brief further articulating its First Amendment concerns, and would seek to take part in oral arguments.
The dispute began in July 2012, when an adjunct analyst at the CEI posted a column on the Washington-based think tank’s website, criticizing world-renowned climate scientist Michael Mann and a 2010 investigation of his work by Pennsylvania State University, where he serves as director of the university’s Earth System Science Center.
Mann is credited with developing the so-called “hockey stick graph,” which shows a centuries-long duration of stable climate temperatures and a sharp, upward-sloping temperature increase in recent decades.
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