billionaires

Billionaires and Corporations Love anti-SLAPP Laws. Why Does John Oliver?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/11/2019 - 11:10am in

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Why does this multibillionaire need a cartoonist’s money?

            John Oliver recently dedicated his HBO show to why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law. Like most of his stuff, the episode was witty and engaging. It was also sloppy, thoughtless and poorly researched. From now on, I’ll wonder whether I can trust anything he says.

            An anti-SLAPP motion is a powerful legal maneuver available to defendants against libel and defamation lawsuits. In the 27 states that have them, the filing of an anti-SLAPP motion brings everything to a halt until a judge — not a jury — decides various issues about a case. Does it involve a matter of public interest? Is there a chance the case would succeed at trial? If the judge rules for the defense, the case is thrown out and the plaintiff pays the defendant’s legal fees.

            Liberals and conservatives alike like anti-SLAPP. Supporters say they protect activists, whistleblowers and average individuals from being bankrupted if they get sued by deep-pocketed corporations and wealthy individuals who use the courts to harass their victims. In his show Oliver described his experience being sued by a coal baron who wanted to chill criticism. HBO, Oliver said, spent $200,000 to defend him because the suit was filed in a state without anti-SLAPP.

            It’s easy to see why someone like Oliver, targeted by a frivolous defamation claim designed to tie him up in court and waste his employer’s lucre, would yearn for a federal anti-SLAPP law. His must have been a frustrating experience.

            There is, however, an inherent design flaw in anti-SLAPP: the United States Constitution. Under the equal protection clause, you can’t give rights to one class of defendant and not another. You can’t limit anti-SLAPP protections to impecunious individuals and small businesses; rich people and giant corporations have to get the same legal prerogatives.

            Which is what has been happening. Billionaires and corporate conglomerates use anti-SLAPP to crush legitimate libel and defamation lawsuits filed by ordinary individuals and whistleblowers. Happens a lot. Why don’t you hear about these cases? Because media companies love, love, love anti-SLAPP.

            In 2016 The National Enquirer published a cover story about fitness headlined: “Richard Simmons: He’s Now a Woman.” He wasn’t. “Secret Boob & Castration Surgery,” the tabloid screamed, “Yes, This Photo Shoot Is Real!” It wasn’t. The cover photo of “transwoman” Simmons was Photoshopped.

            Thanks to anti-SLAPP, what should have been an open-and-shut defamation case turned a travesty of justice into a farce. While acknowledging that the paper lied about Simmons, Los Angeles judge said that letting Simmons’ case go forward was tantamount to saying that it is bad to be trans. Simmons was an innocent victim and the Enquirer knowingly lied. Yet the court ordered him to pay American Media, owner of the paper, $130,000 in legal fees. So much for anti-SLAPP as being a tool for the little guy! AMI brought in $310 million in revenues last year.

            In 2018 MSNBC host Joy Reid [disclosure: I have appeared on Reid’s show] retweeted a photo of a Trump supporter yelling at a high school student at a Simi Valley, California city council meeting. Reid added the following text: “He showed up to rally to defend immigrants…She showed up too, in her MAGA hat, and screamed, ‘You are going to be the first deported’…’dirty Mexican!’ He is 14 years old. She is an adult. Make the picture black and white and it could be the 1950s and the desegregation of a school. Hate is real, y’all. It hasn’t even really gone away.”

            Hate is real. The story was not. The kid said that Roslyn La Liberte, the woman in the photo, was trying to keep things “civil.” She never said that stuff.

            La Liberte’s son emailed to inform Reid of the truth. Reid nevertheless reposted the image, this time alongside a black-and-white image of pro-segregation protesters in Little Rock in 1957 with this caption: “It was inevitable that this image would be made. It’s also easy to look at old black and white photos and think: I can’t believe that person screaming at a child, with their face twisted in rage, is real. B[ut] everyone one of them were. History sometimes repeats. And it is full of rage.”

            La Liberte was wronged. Rather than settle or plead guilty, MSNBC’s lawyers hit the working grandmother with an anti-SLAPP motion. Ignoring the fact that Reid’s posts easily qualify under as “reckless disregard for the truth” under the landmark libel case Sullivan v. New York Times (1964), the judge wallowed in pro-corporate sophistry: “the juxtaposition of the photographs does not ‘make clear that [La Liberte] is alleged to have engaged in specific racist conduct akin to that demonstrated during desegregation.’” La Liberte’s case was thrown out, denying her justice. Adding injury to insult, she has to pay MSNBC’s legal fees. MSNBC is owned by NBC Universal, a $203 billion company.

            President Trump used anti-SLAPP against Stormy Daniels, the porn actor who sued him for calling her a liar. Trump is worth $3 billion. Daniels owes him $293,000 for his legal fees.

            My readers are familiar with my case against the Los Angeles Times. No one disputes the fact that they lied about me, fired me as a favor to the LAPD (which owned them at the time) and tried to destroy my journalistic reputation in order to send a chilling message to journalists who criticize the police. My anti-SLAPP case is still working its way through the court system—and things currently look good—but there is already a $330,000 judgment against me. They want me to pay that money to two billionaires, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and LA schools superintendent and former Times publisher Austin Beutner, with a combined net worth of $16 billion.

            Bill Cosby has been using the anti-SLAPP statute against his rape victims.

            Faced with these cases, anti-SLAPP apologists sometimes say that the law isn’t bad, that it is simply being abused. If a law is written in such a way that it can be routinely abused, it is bad by definition.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Kay Burley’s Non-Interview with James Cleverly and an Empty Chair

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/11/2019 - 9:28pm in

Tory chairman James Cleverly was due to appear on Sky this week to be interviewed by Kay Burley. But he didn’t turn up. She was understandably annoyed – HIGNFY last night played a clip of her saying that she was ‘fizzing’ with anger about it. And so she carried on with the interview. Cleverly was replaced with an empty chair as Burley told viewers about the questions she wanted to ask him.

I found this short video about the incident on Christian Tonnies’ channel on YouTube. Here it is.

Burley begins by saying that she has an empty chair that was supposed to be filled by the Conservative chairman. Where is he? She replies that he’s probably 15 feet away from where she is at the moment, and that she’s been in to see him during the break. He said he wasn’t due to come on and talk to them today, although they had said that they would. She says that she wanted to ask him about things like this, like the front page of the Telegraph, ‘The tragedy of the modern Labour party and its boss’, comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Stalin persecuting the kulaks. She puts the paper down in order to show people the empty chair again.

She also wanted to ask him about the Grenfell incident and the comments by Jacob Rees-Mogg about the people in Grenfell, suggesting that he was smarter than they were, which is why they stayed in their properties. She says to the audience that they’ll remember how many people sadly died, and asks why on Earth Mogg is still a member of the Cabinet. She goes on to show the empty chair again. She also wanted to ask him about the Welsh Secretary and the calls for him to resign of a former aide. She also wanted to ask him about a row over whether the transition will be extended if we don’t have a deal by the middle of 2020. She also wanted to ask him about a different row over attempts to get officials to cost Labour policies. Another issue she wanted to ask him about was the row over the failure to publish the report into Russian interference. She also wanted to ask him if she thought the Tories were having a good day. She also wanted to ask him about his or his boss’ suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn was demonising billionaires and whether or not it was a good idea to defend billionaires at the very start of the campaign.

She goes on to say that she knows Number 10 watches the show and she also knows that the spin doctors at No. 10 had absolutely reassured her via text that when many politicians were doing the rounds in the morning they would do this programme. And yet we have an empty chair. She repeats the rhetorical question about his location, and answers it, saying his 15 feet away from her, and says that he, James Cleverly, will not come on the programme to answer all the of the allegations.

The clip ends with a message from the Labour Party saying its time for real change, and that Labour stands for the many, not the few.

Quite. 

It would appear from this that Cleverly is a coward, who has absolutely no answers to the questions Burley was going to ask him. But he’s not alone in this. We saw with Tweezer how very carefully stage-managed her appearances were. They were all here done before selected audiences from which the public were excluded, crafted to make it seem the opposite. The Tories can’t stand probing interviews, and the moment someone asks them a question they can’t answer without lies and spin, they go to pieces and start ranting about how unfair it all is.

Of course Cleverly has not answer to Burley’s questions, just as his party has no answer to the poverty and misery they’ve inflicted on working people. Because they’re responsible for it.

Get them out, and a party in that does have real solutions: Labour.

Damage Report: The nexus of voter theft, race and gun violencefeaturing Jevin Lamar’s new track, “Still Holding On”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/11/2019 - 4:15pm in

In this edition of Damage Report, host John Iadarola and investigative reporter Greg Palast discuss vote theft and how it intersects with social issues such as homelessness and mass shootings. They also premiere a video by hip hop artist Jevin Lamar, whose cousin, Tee Jay McNichols, was

The post Damage Report: The nexus of voter theft, race and gun violence<div id='sec-title'><small>featuring Jevin Lamar’s new track, “Still Holding On”</small></div> appeared first on Greg Palast.

Review: Revolutionary Love by Rabbi Michael Lerner

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/11/2019 - 4:43am in

J. Edgar Hoover called Rabbi Michael Lerner, “The most dangerous man in America.” Get Rabbi Lerner’s new book, Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World, and you’ll know why. You already know America is f’d-up. Here is a

The post Review: Revolutionary Love by Rabbi Michael Lerner appeared first on Greg Palast.

We Don’t Have a Working DemocracyWhat happened, how we can fix it

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/08/2019 - 8:25pm in

Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, the vote theft party’s started. They’re removing voters from rolls even more aggressively, especially in

The post We Don’t Have a Working Democracy<div id='sec-title'>What happened, how we can fix it </div> appeared first on Greg Palast.

King Koch is GoneDavid Koch Dead at 79

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 24/08/2019 - 3:57am in

King Koch is gone. He made his billions the old-fashioned way, stealing from Native Americans. Watch my two minute investigative report on the Kochs.

The post King Koch is Gone<div id='sec-title'>David Koch Dead at 79</div> appeared first on Greg Palast.