What Melania Trump’s Lawsuit Against Webster Tarpley Means for Alternative Media

trump melaniaBy Kurt Nimmo

As reported last week the wife of Donald Trump has initiated a lawsuit against author, blogger, and radio talk show host Webster Tarpley and the British newspaper The Daily Mail.

A $75,000 defamation suit was filed after Tarpley and the Mail posted a story claiming Melania Trump worked for an escort service prior to marrying the billionaire presidential candidate. Trump claims the story references “unfounded rumors and innuendo.”

Webster Tarpley responded to the lawsuit by claiming his “editors, writers and contributors did not generate said rumors” and admitted the story “was not diligent in fact-checking or maintaining a healthy distance between innuendo and fact.”

Tarpley retracted the story and formally apologized. However, this did not stop Trump from going ahead with a lawsuit.

“Melania Trump’s lawsuit against me is without merit. Mrs. Trump is a public figure actively engaged in the Trump for president campaign. We are confident that Mrs. Trump will not be able to meet her high burden of proving the statements published about her on my website were defamatory in any way. Her lawsuit is a blatant attempt to intimidate not only me but journalists of all stripes into remaining silent with regard to public figures. This lawsuit is a direct affront to First Amendment principles and free speech in our democratic society,” Tarpley wrote on September 1.

Prior to the $115 million verdict against Gawker in the Hulk Hogan sex tape case it was rare for public figures to sue unless the target of the lawsuit had money. The Gawker verdict demonstrated it is now feasible to use a lawsuit as a political weapon to take down a media organization.

Hulk Hogan, aka Terry Gene Bollea, was not alone in his lawsuit against Gawker. He had a secret financial backer—Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal. Gawker outed the Silicon Valley billionaire as gay in 2007. “It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence,” Thiel told The New York Times. “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.”

In 1973 Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Human Rel. Comm’n established that the subject of a defamation lawsuit cannot argue innocence based on the fact he or she republished information from another source. Large corporate news organizations with significant financial resources at risk carefully check and double-check sources in order to avoid lawsuits. This is not always the case with small and more vulnerable news operations.

Many alternative media news stories are based on single sources and extrapolation, leaving journalists and news sites open to retaliatory lawsuits like the one launched by Melania Trump. She is not merely interested in a retraction and apology. Trump intends to financially harm and possible destroy not only The Daily Mail but also the career of Webster Tarpley. The Daily Mail, a newspaper with a circulation over 1.5 million, has successfully weathered libel lawsuits in the past from a number of people, including the actress Diana Rigg, the musician Elton John, the author J. K. Rowling, and others. It is not likely the Trump lawsuit, if successful, will put The Daily Mail out of business. Conversely Gawker, a relatively large operation with an appreciable Alexa ranking backed by the media corporation Univision Communications, filed bankruptcy and ceased operations after a Florida jury awarded Hogan $140 million.

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Small and independent alternative news media operations are now at risk. The Gawker case and the outcome of the Trump lawsuit have undoubtedly set a precedent. The Trump lawsuit reveals powerful and wealthy people now have the incentive and legal standing to target small fish like Webster Tarpley and other journalists and researchers, not to claim any sort of financial settlement but to shut them down.

Kurt Nimmo is the editor of Another Day in the Empire, where this article first appeared. He is the former lead editor and writer of Infowars.com.

Photo: Marc Nozell

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12 Comments on "What Melania Trump’s Lawsuit Against Webster Tarpley Means for Alternative Media"

  1. Who cares if she was a prostitute or not? Has she killed anyone? Is she releasing classified data? I’d say this is her personal life. How about Tarpley focus on Chelsea Hubble.

    • I agree, on that particular level, her personal life should be left out of the political media mud slinging. There is plenty of powerful ammo to aim at both Trump and the Clintons, no need to stoop to that kind of reporting. Tarpley has long been an apologist for Obama, saying stuff like Obama really wants to do right by Americans it’s only the nasty neocons who get in his way. I wonder about his judgment as a hard core socialist. Still, the punishment should fit the crime (slander), not bankrupt him.

      • Disregarding her own past, why not focus on her’s husbands’s sleazy habit of using her as merchandise to sell product. I heard he made her strip down in a lear jet before some wealthy clients, But don’t sue me if this is mere rumour.

        • The Clintons are mass murderers, minions enslaving the whole freakin’ planet and some analysts want to pump gossip below the level of tabloid. More bread and circus…

    • Tarpley is circumspect about his targets. Or rather about what they are not: socialists and other ultra-leftists.

  2. Sorry, I don’t agree with the premise of this article. Claiming a high profile persona was a “prostitute” without any evidence is Slander. Small and independent probably have nothing to worry about (at least from being sued) as long as they do their due diligence. Unfortunately, Webster demonstrated (repeatedly) of his disgust for Trump. He was a bit overzealous (and loose with the backing research) in wanting to bring him down a notch. Finally, this isn’t some “small outlet”, they have 1.5 million subscribers…hardly “alternative media”.

  3. I am laughing at this. Nobody would be able to say such a thing about Hillary b/c she is too ugly to be an escort. Hahahaha! I don’t think Melania was an escort, there are other articles about her past saying totally different things, but even if she was, so what?! There are much more scandalous things about other ppl! An escort, seriously, that’s all they can come up with? How about global genocide by GMOs which most politicians in D.C. are part of!!! Let’s focus on the important stuff!

    • Women who haven’t accepted money or gifts-in-kind for “favors” are rarer than hen’s teeth. It’s called dating, and then it’s called marriage.

  4. arielmonserrat | September 6, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Reply

    My dad sued Webster Tarpley for slander and won. My dad was a consultant for Reagans’s campaign in 1980. Tarpley wrote a book and said my dad was a spy for Russia – nothing could be further from the truth, I still hear from people today that he had a STERLING, VERY HONEST reputation in D.C. My dad was a patriot
    and one of the most honest men who ever lived. Tarpley is a POS who slanders people and is an arrogant jerk. I don’t like Trump but I hope his wife cleans Tarpley’s clock in this lawsuit, he deserves it.

  5. Webster Tarpley is a sniveling little rat, he thinks its alright to go after a woman and be-little her, but when she retaliates he turns water and becomes a cry baby. Son grow up and get a life, and get your facts right before shooting off at the mouth.

  6. There is one solution: Check your sources and don’t go with it if it can’t be confirmed.

    Look what happened to Dan Rather at CBS. Bad story on Bush 43 that was too juicy to check.

    After years of journalistic work, he was all done..

  7. Precedent and our Constitution protects robust public discussion about public figures and especially figures holding public office.

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