Issue: When is a malicious lie not a malicious lie? If extremist pundit Mark Steyn and his New York Super Lawyer, Daniel J. Kornstein, have their way, the answer to that question could be -- always. Mr. Kornstein has just entered the case to defend Mark Steyn in climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann's courageous libel suit against the National Review Online, Steyn and his minions who have abandoned science, facts, truth, honesty and honor to maliciously malign Dr. Mann for honest and important scientific work that supports the reality of anthropogenic climate change.
LeftOfYou Blog has been reporting for some time about Dr. Michael Mann's groundbreaking litigation that has apparently set hair on fire among some on the right-wing fringe of American political life. The case is basically frozen, procedurally, because the bad guys got a stay during an appeal of two rulings against them that would otherwise have allowed Dr.Mann to begin discovery and preparation for trial.
Mark Steyn and co-Defendant Rich Lowry are among the main media water carriers for the complicated and widespread right-wing conspiracy theory regarding Dr. Mann's science, particularly the so-called hockey stick graph. The stay pending the appeal notwithstanding, the case hasn't been quiet at the trial level. After all, numerous lawyers are now living off the fundraising this case generates, particularly on the side of the bad guys.
The latest twist in the case is either funny, or chilling, depending on who ultimately wins. More or less coincident with Mr. Kornstein's entry into the case, his client, Mark Steyn, has counter-sued Dr. Mann, claiming damages for the oppression of his precious constitutional rights under the sacred First Amendment and that Dr. Mann should pay a tidy sum accordingly.
Judicial privilege allows Steyn, and by extension the denier conspiracy itself, to say, without fear of further defamation suit, anything they please in this counter-claim. Without addressing Dr. Mann's specific libel claims for which he sued Steyn, the pleading seems to hold little back on other popular myths of the right.
If you follow me out in to the tall grass, I will quote you some of he reddest meat in this extraordinary pleading (note: PDF) with some discussion.
First, at a hat tip to Climate Science Watch, a place for honest journalism about the progress, or lack of it, in Dr. Mann's case. But journalists have standards, and although I respect that, I don't have. I will pretty much, though totally without malice, will say exactly what I please about this contemptible drivel vomited up into the trial courts of the District of Columbia by the best legal minds that the right-wing conspiracy lovers could find to speak for them. Here is what I mean:
BTW, this is a publicly filed court document. I can quote all I want.
Plaintiff Michael Mann is a widely known figure in the scientific and public policy spheres of global warming research who has thrust himself into the politics of the global warming debate by appearing in TV commercials for political candidates, writing newspaper columns regularly for The Guardian , The New York Times and others, serving as scientific advisor to and appearing in a climate-change TV series starring climate experts Matt Damon and Jessica Alba, and is therefore a public figure. In March 2012, Plaintiff published a book called The Hockey Stick And The Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines , the “front lines” presumably referring to his media appearances with Miss Alba et al.Ooh, that was sharp tongued! I wouldn't get into Jason Bourne's face thataway, but that's just me. But the list of amateur, celebrity "climate change experts, Matt Damon and Jessica Alba" seems short. How about adding, oh, I don't know, Mark Steyn?
Plaintiff and his Counsel have issued demands that have no basis in law, as they well know – including the preposterous assertion, in response to a parody video by “Minnesotans for Global Warming”, that “Professor Mann’s likeness” is protected from parody and satire. (See attached letter from Plaintiff's counsel.) Plaintiff has engaged in serial misrepresentation and false claims to authority, including (in his original Complaint against Defendant Steyn) purporting to be a Nobel Laureate and (in his current Complaint and elsewhere) purporting to have been exonerated by multiple investigations and by fellow scientists who have, in fact, pronounced Mann and his work “inappropriate”, “exaggerated”, “non-robust” and his defense of it “incorrect”. There is a smell to the hockey stick that, in Lady Macbeth's words, “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten” - nor all the investigations. And so Dr Mann has determined to sue it into respectability.I always say, if you are going to steal someone else's words in order to have something to say, steal from the best. But I get it. You think there is something dishonest about Dr. Mann's climate science work. OK. What? Hello? Crickets.
But Dr. Mann's apparent habit of pushing back against those who make malicious, unsubstantiated attacks upon him, you know, people like Mark Steyn, is alleged to have wrecked terrible havoc on their little world. Dr. Mann, they say, filed his libel suit not to stop bastards like Mark Steyn from lyng about him but as a publicity stunt to revive a fading celebrity.
Plaintiff’s lawsuit was designed . . . to have and has had the effect of inhibiting legitimate debate on the issues and public policy surrounding the theories expounded by Plaintiff and others and of restricting the free flow of ideas concerning the merits of those theories. It was also designed, at a time of the IPCC and others’ growing disenchantment with the “hockey stick” and the public’s lack of interest in Plaintiff’s book The Hockey Stick And The Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines (published shortly before this action), to re-ignite his dimming celebrity and create artificially a new “front line” for him to pose on.That's cold man.
Plaintiff’s wrongful interference with Defendant Steyn’s constitutionally protected rights of free speech and public expression and his engagement and use of the courts as an instrument of the government to carry out that wrongful interference violates the First Amendment and constitutes a constitutional tort for which Defendant Steyn is entitled to be compensated.OMG, that SOB Mann has precipitated a Constitutional Crisis.
As a consequence of Plaintiff’s wrongful act, Defendant Steyn has been damaged and is entitled to damages, including but not limited to his costs and the attorneys’ fees he has
incurred and will incur in the future in defending this action, all in an amount to be determined at trial, but in any event, not less than $5 million, plus punitive damages in the amount of $5 million.
Actually there isn't really anything new in this, except a chance by Steyn and the other defendants to further obstruct and delay and prevent Dr. Mann from conducting discovery of where they got the fanciful lies they've told about him.
As will often turn out to be the case with legal pleadings, the interesting part is what is not said. Steyn's counter-claim carefully makes no mention of Steyn's participation in the malicious personal and falshood laden attacks against Dr. Mann including an attempt to smear Dr. Mann's work and a Penn State study validating it, with the tarry brush of the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal. The last thing Mark Steyn and the other defendans ever want to do is talk about the lies they have told about Dr. Mann.