Trumpenfreude for McClatchy Publishing

The front page of a newspaper with the headline "Fake News" which illustrates the current phenomena. Front section of newspaper is on top of loosely stacked remainder of newspaper. All visible text is authored by the photographer. Photographed in a studio setting on a white background with a slight wide angle lens.

Schadenfreude is defined as “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.” Trumpenfreude is a derivative and relates to people who insult or start feuds with President Trump but end up worse for the ordeal. Retired journalist and blogger Don Surber has been collecting instances of Trumpenfreude since President Trump was inaugurated. So far, he has identified 118 Trumpenfreude events, as listed here.


I believe he should add #119.

McClatchy Publishing Company owns 30 newspapers in 14 states, including the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Sacramento Bee. Over the past three years, McClatchy newspapers have been at the forefront in publishing anti-Trump stories, many of which were related first to the now-thoroughly-debunked Russia hoax and the Mueller witch hunt.

In addition, the newspapers ferociously attacked President Trump’s most formidable allies who were dangerous to Democrat political interests, most notably Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Nunes finally initiated a lawsuit against McClatchy Co. in April 2019.

In his latest legal onslaught against perceived critics of his policies, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, filed a $150 million defamation suit Monday in a Virginia circuit court against the McClatchy Co. and a Virginia communications consultant described as a “digital terrorist for hire.”

The lawsuit filed in Albemarle County was obtained by The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday, and Nunes confirmed the lawsuit in a Monday night appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show.

Nunes declared that McClatchy reporters need “to come clean with the American people” and retract their “fake news” reports. He said he wants such stories – including one published last year concerning his investment in the Alpha Omega Winery – scrubbed from the internet, and he promised more legal challenges.

The lawsuit, which follows a previous $250 million lawsuit he filed against Twitter and a parody account known as Devin Nunes’ Cow, targets McClatchy for reporting by The Fresno Bee in a “scheme to defame Plaintiff and destroy his reputation.”


It is indeed ironic that The Sacramento Bee, a McClatchy newspaper, should use the phrase “perceived critics” in that first sentence when the evidence of their attacks led to the lawsuit in the first place.

The usual Deep State suspects have panned the lawsuit as being “without merit,” frivolous or “grandstanding,” as many of Nunes’s critics have been claiming since it was initiated. Rushing to McClatchy’s defense, here is what one of the “high priestesses of the legacy media,” the Columbia Journalism Review, had to say about it:

Congressman Devin Nunes’s latest lawsuit against people he thinks are making him look bad … appears unlikely to succeed and, in the eyes of media-law experts, is virtually free of merit.

Just because the new lawsuit might be laughed out of court doesn’t make it a laughing matter for McClatchy or Nunes’s other targets. Fighting a defamation suit, however baseless, against a prominent, deep-pocketed plaintiff like a congressman can burn up plenty of time, attention, and money.

And that might be the point.

Yes, there is more than one way to skin a defaming cat. Whatever works! But not so fast, CJR, as a judge has recently granted Nunes discovery in the case, as reported here:

The McClatchy Company, a news company that is being sued for defamation by House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA), moved to dismiss the lawsuit in court on Wednesday [12 February], but the judge in the case rejected the request — an interim win for Nunes.

However, Judge Cheryl V. Higgins did not grant McClatchy’s motion to dismiss the case but has granted Nunes discovery on the question. That means that McClatchy must prove that it does not have significant ties to Virginia by answering questions and providing information on assertions from Nunes. Higgins said the court may have to hear witness testimony on the question as well.

Higgins’ ruling on Wednesday marks a limited ruling in favor of Nunes.

Wednesday’s ruling is another recent positive development for Nunes, against entities that have responded with what appears to be a strategy of stalling tactics, requests to dismiss, and avoiding discovery at all costs on the substance of Nunes’ lawsuits.


“Discovery” is defined as “the exchange of legal information and known facts of a case. Think of discovery as obtaining and disclosing the evidence and position of each side of a case so that all parties involved can decide what their best options are – move forward toward trial or negotiate an early settlement.” The judge’s ruling means that McClatchy must cooperate in providing requested documents, files, emails, and other internal communications relevant to the case to Nunes’s legal team.

Moving on, just one day after the judge’s discovery ruling, McClatchy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Newspaper chain McClatchy, owner of publications such as the Miami Herald and Kansas City Star, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday after grappling with a pension crisis and the news industry’s financial challenges.

I don’t believe in coincidences. While I don’t doubt that the stated reason – a pension crisis – played an important part in their decision-making to file for bankruptcy, I believe that the last vague phrase, “the news industry’s financial challenges” is the real underlying reason. McClatchy knows that they stand to lose the Nunes lawsuit, which would be a big hit to their bottom line. Furthermore, their “financial woes” are likely as much due to their anti-Trump editorial pages and fake news reporting as anything. I’ve never understood why any business – even a newspaper – would continually insult half of their potential customer base. But that seems to happen more and more these days (e.g., Nike).


There’s the new #119, Don. If anti-Trump McClatchy declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy isn’t Trumpenfreude, then I don’t know what is!

And there may be a few more media-related instances of Trumpenfreude in the queue, too, as Devin Nunes has lawsuits underway against CNN, the Daily Beast, Esquire, Fusion GPS, and Twitter, all of whom have been on the anti-Trump bandwagon over the last 3+ years. Nunes has already been granted discovery in his lawsuit against Twitter.

Trumpenfreude: coming to an unhinged anti-Trump entity or person near you. I love it!

The end.


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