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Beck Sued for Boston Bombing Conspiracy Theory

Remember last year after the Boston Marathon bombings when Glenn Beck was droning on endlessly about how a Saudi man who was injured in the blast was in on it all? He named him by name many times and famously gave the federal government three days to come clean or he would blow the lid off the alleged coverup. That man is now suing Beck.

Glenn Beck defamed on his radio show a Middle Eastern victim of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing as a criminal participant in it, the man claims in Federal Court.

Abdulrahman Alharbi sued Beck, The Blaze Inc., Mercury Radio Arts and Premiere Radio Networks for defamation and slander.

Alharbi describes himself in the 6-page lawsuit as “a 20-year-old student who was a spectator at the Marathon and was injured in the bombing. Mr. Alharbi, like many others, was questioned by federal authorities investigating the events of that day. Those authorities also, with his permission, searched his apartment. The responsible officials quickly concluded that Mr. Alharbi, other then being injured in the attacks, had no involvement in the attacks. Many news outlets reported the facts of the search of an apartment and that authorities had questioned a man of Middle Eastern descent. When the authorities concluded that Mr. Alharbi had no involvement, reports ceased. The defendant Glenn Beck, with the active participation of the distributor defendants, repeatedly and falsely identified Mr. Alharbi as an active participant in the crimes that were committed on April 15, 2013, repeatedly questioned the motives of federal officials in failing to pursue or detain Mr. Alharbi and repeatedly and falsely accused Mr. Alharbi of being a criminal who had funded the attacks that took place at the Boston Marathon. Those statements were made widely and publicly. The statements were false and did grave injury to the plaintiff.”

This is quite typical of Glenn Beck, of course. He turns no evidence whatsoever into a bizarre conspiracy theory, grandiosely declares that he can prove it and says “I don’t bluff.” But the whole thing was a bluff. He was talking out his ass the entire time and defaming an innocent man who was laying in a hospital room recovering from his injuries. I hope he loses huge, enough to bankrupt him.

Comments

  1. jws1 says

    Are there rules limiting how much one can sue in a case like this? He should try for a Dr Evil type of number…

  2. eric says

    Sadly, I am skeptical he will win. He’s basically accusing Beck of slander, and for slander don’t you have to show the person’s intent was malicious? I.e., that his purpose in lying was to damage the victim’s reputation. Not only is showing intent a really hard thing to do, but in a worse case scenario Beck could probably tell the unvarnished truth and wiggle out of the slander charge. I.e., tell the judge “my purpose was to increase ratings, not damage his reputation. Sure, that was a likely consequence, but his reputation was never my target – getting more veiewers was my target. Was I uncaring about the impact to his reputation? Yes. Was I maliciously trying to ruin it? No. I could care less what happens to that guy.”

  3. subbie says

    eric, the short answer to your question is no, you don’t have to prove malice as you describe it.

    The longer answer, is that, in some cases, “malice” is an element of a defamation lawsuit. That mainly applies to defamation of someone considered a public figure. I don’t think Mr. Alharbi would be considered a public figure, but even if he were, “malice” in the context of a defamation suit has nothing to do with the intent of the speaker. In defamation law, “malice” means knowing that the information you are disseminating is false, or having reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of what you are saying.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Eric, you mean if I blow the lid off Glen Beck’s activities cooking meth and producing child porn, as long as I say “I did it to get more readers of my blog” I will be safe? That is a useful thing to know…

  5. birgerjohansson says

    …Not to mention “spreading the truth” of how Beck raped and killed a student back in the 1980s and got off on atechnicality.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    “Having reckless disregard for the truth” is beck’s middle name. So Mr. Alharbi should be able to buy a yatch in the near future.

  7. says

    Ah hah! He orchestrated the bombing just so that Beck would so-called “slander” him and then he could sue Beck for telling the truth!
     
    Now are you for Tort Reform?

  8. eric says

    @6 – thanks for the clarification. Not sure Beck’s accusation could be shown “knowingly false” (he could simply say he believed the investigators were wrong in concluding this guy was innocent), but reckless disregard for truth does seem to fit quite well.

    @7 – that was my previous understanding, yes. Keep in mind that in a theoretical libel case against, you, Beck could pull up this web page, point to your post, and use it to demonstrate your insincerity. Intent is often hard to prove, but its not impossible when someone leaves a paper trail of statements to the effect “…and then we will use this legal loophole to damage Beck! Muhahahaha!!!” But that’s all water under the bridge – see @6 for a more accurate description of how the law works.

  9. says

    I hope he loses huge, enough to bankrupt him.

    The sum we’re talking about here would have to be staggering. I’m not sure such a sum could ever be justified, even if the defendant is Glenn Beck.

    …Not to mention “spreading the truth” of how Beck raped and killed a student back in the 1980s and got off on a technicality.

    Now that’s slander. Everyone knows it was in 1990.

    By the way, he was never charged for the alleged crime, which shows the depth of the coverup, and he’s never once denied doing it.

  10. raven says

    This is quite typical of Glenn Beck, of course. He turns no evidence whatsoever into a bizarre conspiracy theory,…

    True.

    I’ve noticed that some of the stories on his web site, TheBlaze, seem to be enitrely fabricated.

    I tried to check out the one about tornado victims in Illinois running FEMA out of their disaster area. All I found was a report of REMA agents on the ground accessing the damage. It never happened.

  11. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I would propose the Alharbi sue for $100 million and Glenn Beck’s left nut.

  12. dingojack says

    Eric – the FoAW notes that at the State level:

    All states except Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee recognize that some categories of false statements are so innately harmful that they are considered to be defamatory per se. In the common law tradition, damages for such false statements are presumed and do not have to be proven.
    Statements are defamatory per se where they falsely impute to the plaintiff one or more of the following things:.[2]
    Allegations or imputations “injurious to another in their trade, business, or profession”
    Allegations or imputations “of loathsome disease” (historically leprosy and sexually transmitted disease, now also including mental illness)
    Allegations or imputations of “unchastity” (usually only in unmarried people and sometimes only in women)
    Allegations or imputations of criminal activity (sometimes only crimes of moral turpitude)[8][9]

    Defamation Per Se in Massachusetts:

    “Massachusetts has abolished the separate category of defamation per se at least in part. Under state common law, any libel is actionable per se. Sharratt v. Housing Innovations, Inc., 365 Mass. 141 (Mass. 1974). This means that plaintiffs do not need to plead or prove economic losses in order to prevail on libel claims.

    However, Massachusetts courts have continued to discuss defamation per se. It appears the state might still recognize libel per se when determining whether a statement “could damage the plaintiff’s reputation in the community” — which is part of the consideration of whether the statement is defamatory. Albright v. Morton, 321 F. Supp. 2d 130 (D.Mass. 2004); Stone v. Essex County Newspapers, Inc., 367 Mass. 849 (Mass. 1975). Libel per se in this context seems to encompass statements that charge the plaintiff with a crime, that allege the plaintiff has certain diseases, or that may prejudice the plaintiff’s profession or business. Morton, 321 F. Supp. at note 3. ”

    At the Federal level, not so much.

    Dingo

  13. raven says

    Conservative filmmaker Pat Dollard: “Time for Americans to start slaughtering Muslims in the streets”
    Salon ‎- 14 hours ago April 2

    The offending tweeter, (Breitbart. com contributor) Pat Dollard, himself tweeted news of the shooting … perhaps surprisingly, he has not deleted at the time of this writing).

    Nothing Beck does is original to Beck. The whole Right Wing noise machine is a swamp of inaccuracies and lies.

    Yesterday someone shot up Fort Hood again, killing 3 and wounding more.

    Pat Dollard, a Breitbart .com contributor promptly called for Americans to start slaughtering all the Moslems in the street.

    The shooters name was Ivan Lopez, which doesn’t sound too Moslem to me, and he was a returned soldier with mental issues.

    Although really, I doubt that Pat Dollard (whoever he is) and many of the christofascists really care. I’m sure they would be OK with just slaughtering all the Moslems in the street anyway. It’s nothing xians haven’t been doing for 2,000 years to one group or another.

  14. dingojack says

    Raven – maybe Breitbartt misspelt ‘dullard’.*
    :) Dingo
    ———-
    * He has the same difficulty with real hard words like ‘Muslim’

  15. Peter B says

    IANAL, but I read pophat.com. Beck’s best defense might be that whenever he speaks that he is just blowing gas from his nether regions. Thinking people already realize that whatever proceeds from his mouth needs to be taken with a grain of salt – 25 pound salt lick size.

    Of course, some people believe The Onion, America’s Finest News Source.

  16. says

    “Not to mention “spreading the truth” of how Beck raped and killed a student back in the 1980s and got off on atechnicality”

    That is a LIE!

    He didn’t kill A student. It was “studentS”, plural; the number of students, somewhere between “0” and the population of Mumbai, India is unimportant. What IS important is that you not spread LIES about poor Glennie Bek killing ONE student.

  17. says

    “Of course, some people believe The Onion, America’s Finest News Source.”

    Well, other than their April Fools’ issue, who wouldn’t?

  18. eric says

    @20 – Papa Johns used a defense something like that when they got sued by Pizza Hut back in the late ’90s. Pizza Hut said there was nothing “better” about their ingredients, thus “better ingredients, better pizza” is false advertising. Papa John’s defense was that “better” did not refer to actually better in any measurable way, just to personal taste. IIRC Papa John’s eventually won (after appeals etc.)

  19. kevinalexander says

    I hope Mr. Alharbi gets a large amount of money from Beck.

    Not gonna happen. Beck has the resources to take this all the way to the Supreme Court and he will win because freeze peach.
    I hope that Mr Alharbi has no money because Beck’s lawyers will get it otherwise.

  20. John Pieret says

    Beck has the resources to take this all the way to the Supreme Court and he will win because freeze peach.

    Not at all. Free speech does not extend to defamation and unless Beck can actually produce evidence that Alharbi was, in fact, a participant in the bombing, his position in the case is quite bad. I suspect there will be a quick and quiet settlement for a substantial amount that Beck will consider to be merely a cost of doing business.

  21. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    I hope [Glenn Beck] loses huge, enough to bankrupt him.

    I wasn’t sure how Ed would weigh-in on this. I’m glad to see he’s taking an aggressive stance.

    I’ve long advocated for juries to not be constrained in their setting punitive damages. Especially when it comes to slander, libel, and other forms of defamation. That’s because I think society’s damaged far more than we collectively realize by liars and their lies.

    In this case I’d like to see an amount set that is the maximum amount necessary to severely reduce the volume of future lies told by anyone in the U.S. about another, while not having that backfire by turning Mr. Beck into a martyr beyond his true believers.

    That amount probably isn’t sufficient to bankrupt Mr. Beck. But hopefully it would serve to motivate other victims to sue liars like Glenn Beck that demonstrably harmed them.

  22. says

    John, I hope that you are right and it wasn’t just my frustrated cynicism speaking.
    It could well be that Beck’s lawyers will claim that their client is an entertainer and a professional clown who no one takes seriously so Alharbi’s reputation wasn’t harmed.

  23. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It could well be that Beck’s lawyers will claim that their client is an entertainer and a professional clown who no one takes seriously so Alharbi’s reputation wasn’t harmed.

    That shouldn’t be difficult to disprove.

  24. eric says

    Heath:

    I’d like to see an amount set that is the maximum amount necessary to severely reduce the volume of future lies told by anyone in the U.S. about another, while not having that backfire by turning Mr. Beck into a martyr beyond his true believers.

    Well, you could do something like bail: give an amount related to damages to the plaintiff now, and set a huge punitive amount in escrow for some period of time (say, 10 years), which is to be paid out if Mr. Beck does it again.

  25. says

    “That amount probably isn’t sufficient to bankrupt Mr. Beck. But hopefully it would serve to motivate other victims to sue liars like Glenn Beck that demonstrably harmed them.”

    I agree.

    The bonus would be if other people who have been slandered by Glennie (and I’m sure that they’re out there) and his talkingshitheadz cronies use precedents established in the case to go after the rest of the scumbags.

  26. chilidog99 says

    I have this vision of an unshaven glen beck huddled in a basement eating freeze dried food with rainwater and trying to pass off chocolate coins as real gold.

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