The nerve of this guy. The blogger who wrote the original post about Melania Trump being a “high-end” escort as part of her journey to America, lost bigly in court today. Webster Tarpley wrote a vicious blog suggesting many things about the now First Lady, including accusations of being a hooker, and living here illegally. Mrs. Trump won a key foundational ruling for her Libel suit against, Tarpley and Media Mail, the parent company of The Daily Mail who picked it up and published it. Politico reports the blogger’s motion to dismiss was denied.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell rejected arguments from lawyers for blogger Webster Tarpley to dismiss Trump’s suit for failing to meet the “actual malice” standard for public figures. The judge also turned down Tarpley’s effort to dismiss the suit under a Maryland law aimed at quickly shutting down bad-faith lawsuits intended to intimidate people speaking out on issues of public concern.
It’s a sign of how far journalism has fallen when some need it explained to them why you can’t just go around publishing articles naming someone as a secret call girl, without proof. This is literally why we have libel laws.
“The court finds the plaintiff has stated a claim for defamation,” Burrell ruled after hearing about 40 minutes of arguments on the issue in a Rockville courtroom. “The court believes most people, when they hear the words ‘high-end escort’ that describes a prostitute. There could be no more defamatory statement than to call a woman a prostitute.”
According to the judge, the key factor here is that Melania Trump was a private citizen and was not personally running for office. To me the key factor here is that The Daily Mail published the blog as though it were true, banked the clicks it provided and are now trying to have their portion of the lawsuit dismissed as well. When the truth is the small time blogger’s post wouldn’t have drawn the attention without their publication. Now they will turn around and say that they trusted the writer in an attempt to avoid accountability.
It’s a frustrating game of cat and mouse, if there is no punishment for publishing “Fake News”, what is the deterrent? I will be keeping an eye on this case as it has longer reaching implications than it might seem at first. If successful Melania Trump could change the way we bloggers and larger news outlets relate information, which will change the way we get our news. Stay Tuned.