Professor’s Lawsuit Against National Review Can Proceed
On Friday, the District of Columbia Superior Court ruled that climatologist and Penn State professor Michael Mann can proceed in his lawsuits against the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Dr. Mann accuses the two conservative entities of defamation for comparing him to convicted rapist Jerry Sandusky last July.
The case has an interesting backstory. Three years ago, hackers leaked private emails between Mann and professors from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom. Climate change deniers allege that the communications reveal an international conspiracy to advertise man-made global warming. After lengthy investigations from the British authorities, the EPA, and Penn State University, the researchers were by all definitions exonerated — except by those with tin foil hats.
Conservative deniers cling to the notion that Michael Mann manipulated his findings that the world was getting warmer. A day after the Freeh report’s release, the Competitive Enterprise Institute released a scathing editorial on an administrative cover-up at Penn State over Michael Mann. In addition to calling Penn State’s internal investigation into the scientist “hogwash,” CEI said Mann paralleled the former defensive coordinator because “Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he molested and tortured data.” The National Review later linked to the op-ed, and said that the author “has a point.”
Unsurprisingly, no one likes to have him/herself likened to a child predator. Michael Mann filed a lawsuit against the prominent magazine and the think tank because the two “maliciously accused (Mann) of academic fraud, the most fundamental defamation that can be levied against a scientist and a professor.” The six counts that Mann is suing for include libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The Superior Court found that the defendants went beyond “brutally honest commentary” in their criticism of Mann and were not protected by the First Amendment.
In December, the National Review issued an appeal for donations to cover their expenses relating to the lawsuit.