It took nearly a decade but Michael Mann’s lawsuit against National Review has finally been dismissed.
More than eight years ago, Mann launched the suit against NR, writing privately that he saw it as an opportunity to “ruin” this “filthy organization.”
The lawsuit stemmed from a blog post on The Corner by Mark Steyn back in 2012 criticizing Mann’s work. The climate scientist threatened a lawsuit unless NR removed the offending post and apologized, which it refused to do. Mann then sued NR, Steyn, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (Steyn quoted a CEI article in his post).
In a separate statement, NR editor Rich Lowry said, “This gives me some pleasure, but it’d give me more pleasure if it were a more complete victory.” While the suit against NR has been dismissed the parallel suits against Mark Steyn and CEI will continue. Lowry added, “The court today ruled that we couldn’t have had malice against Mann, since the Steyn Corner post that occasioned his suit was posted directly and by a nonemployee.”
Mann posted his own response to the dismissal on Facebook:
We are currently evaluating the decision. We note that the decision was reached on a technical issue related to the interpretation of what has become a controversial statute that shields blog sites from defamation liability in some cases.
In no way does the court decision adjudicate the truth or falsity of the defamatory statements at issue. National Review did not prevail on the substance of this lawsuit.
I guess it’s true the judge hasn’t ruled on the truth or falsity of the statements at issue since other suits based on the same statements are ongoing, but the judge did rule on truth or falsity of Mann’s claim that NR defamed him. The suit was dismissed because the judge decided that claim of defamation was not true.
Mann could still appeal the dismissal. On the other hand, NR, which has spent millions fighting this over the past 8+ years, could also sue for Mann for attorney’s fees. On the likelihood of that happening, Lowry said, “Let’s just say if I were him, I’d be very worried about this possibility.”
Finally, Jonathan Adler says he expects the suits against Steyn and CEI will eventually reach a similar outcome.
Note that this decision does not resolve claims against Steyn and CEI. Those remain pending, but I expect similar outcome (eventually).
— Jonathan H. Adler (@jadler1969) March 19, 2021