Politico reports that a U. S. District Court in Texas has ruled that a defamation suit filed against a group of defendants including National Public Radio can proceed to discovery. Judge Amos Mazzant found the $57 million suit filed by Ed Butowsky makes plausible claims that the network may be liable for defamation for a series of online stories about Butowsky’s role in publicizing assertions that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered as part of a broader political plot.
NPR argued that the reports by media correspondent David Folkenflik accurately described a prior lawsuit filed against Fox News and Butowsky for defamation, accusing Fox of fabricating quotations in a story about Rich’s murder. The judge did not agree.
“The statements made by Folkenflik were made as verifiable statements of fact,” the judge wrote. “The statements at issue were not merely expressing a subjective view. Looking at the context of the verifiable facts, nothing shows the statements expressed Folkenflik’s opinion or merely offer Folkenflik’s personal perspective on disputed facts.”
Butowsky has several other defamation suits pending against other news outfits, including CNN, Vox, and The New York Times.