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Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, ACLU of DC, Washington Post, Fox News Network, Others File Support for CEI Rehearing Motion in Michael Mann Defamation Case

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In a letter filed with the D.C. Court of Appeals today, 24 media organizations, including the Washington Post, Tribune Publishing Company, TIME Magazine, ACLU of DC, Fox News Network, and others, supported the Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Review’s request for a rehearing by the full court in CEI, et al. v. Mann. A full list of signatories is included below.  The case involves Michael Mann’s defamation claims against CEI and National Review for their criticism of Mann’s global warming work.

In their letter, the group stated, “The panel’s decision on the merits of plaintiff’s defamation claim…may have unintended and undesirable consequences in future cases implicating the exercise of amici’s right to freedom of speech and of the press.”

The case began with a July 2012 post on CEI’s blog, criticizing climate scientist Michael Mann and the 2010 investigation of his work by Pennsylvania State University, where he teaches. Mann demanded a retraction of the post and of an excerpt of it published by a National Review columnist, Mark Steyn. His demands were rejected and Mann filed a complaint in D.C. Superior Court in October 2012. The defendants responded with a motion to dismiss, invoking both D.C.’s Anti-SLAPP law and Mann’s status as a public figure. These motions were denied and defendants filed an interlocutory appeal of that denial with the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Oral argument was held before a three-judge panel of the appeals court in November 2014.  Despite the fast-track status of the case, no ruling was issued until December, 2016. The panel ruled against CEI, but dismissed several of Mann’s counts. On January 19, 2017, the defendants petitioned for a rehearing en banc.  The panel issued a slightly amended ruling in December, 2018, which led to a new set of rehearing petitions that are currently before the court.

The letter from the organizations supporting CEI and National Review’s motion is here.

Organizations signing the letter:

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia

American Society of News Editors

Association of Alternative Newsmedia

First Amendment Coalition

First Look Media Works, Inc.

Fox News Network LLC

Gannett Co., Inc.

Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University

Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc.

The National Press Club

National Press Photographers Association

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

News Media Alliance

Online News Association

Radio Television Digital News Association

Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting

The Seattle Times Company

Society of Professional Journalists

TIME magazine

Tribune Publishing Company

Tully Center for Free Speech

MDE City Paper Holdings, LLC d/b/a Washington City Paper

The Washington Post