At least, according to a DC Superior Court decision on Friday, there’s enough evidence that it does to make it ok for Michael Mann to proceed with a defamation suit.
A stunning DC Superior Court decision Friday on behalf of climatologist Michael Mann against the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) found:
There is sufficient evidence presented that is indicative of “actual malice. The CEI Defendants have consistently accused Plaintiff of fraud and inaccurate theories, despite Plaintiff’s work having been investigated several times and found to be proper. The CEI Defendants’ persistence despite the EPA and other investigative bodies’ conclusion that Plaintiff’s work is accurate (or that there is no evidence of data manipulation) is equal to a blatant disregard for the falsity of their statements. Thus, given the evidence presented the Court finds that Plaintiff could prove “actual malice.”
Sounds like actual malice to me – being shown over and over again that there is no data manipulation, and continuing to say there is just the same. Yup, I call that malice. I see a lot of it, too – a lie being repeated over and over and over and over again no matter how many times you point out that it’s a lie.
There were actually two decisions handed in DC Superior Court affirming Mann’s right to proceed in his defamation lawsuit against CEI and the National Review Online for their accusations of data manipulation and fraud. The Court eviscerated the Defendants’ arguments (made in their Motion to Dismiss) that their attacks are somehow First Amendment “protected speech” — merely “opinion,” “rhetorical hyperbole,” or “fair comment.”
The determination of “malice” is critical, as the decision explains:
The Court of Appeals has stated that to recover for defamation, a public figure must prove that the defamatory statement was made with “actual malice.” Nader v. de Toledano, 408 A.2d 31, 40 (D.C. 1979); see also, Foretich v. CBS, Inc., 619 A.2d 48, 59 (D.C. 1993) (quoting New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 297 (1964). This means the statement was made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”
Which is malicious.