Be careful what you say, even if what you say is on a little-watched cable network. Conservative video blogger and prankster James O'Keefe brought a Keith Olbermann defamation lawsuit alleging that a liberal pundit made untrue remarks about O'Keefe's criminal background on Olbermann's show.
Olbermann, who has a show on Current TV, had a guest on his show last week who said that O'Keefe had been convicted of a felony and accused of rape, reports the New York Post. O'Keefe, who achieved notoriety as the undercover video blogger who posed as a pimp to catch an ACORN staffer and later captured a public radio exec ripping Republicans, says these claims are untrue and that mainstream media will say anything to get ratings.
Well, while O’Keefe may not have a felony conviction to his name, it turns out that he does have a misdemeanor to his name and has been accused of harassment (not rape), reports the Post.
To win a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff normally has to show that an untrue statement was made, that it was published, and that it caused damage to his reputation. Additionally, if the plaintiff is a public figure, which is arguable with James O’Keefe, the plaintiff would also have to show that the statements were made with actual malice, or an actual intent to injure the plaintiff as opposed to an honest mistake.
Generally, courts will find actual malice only in limited circumstances where the person making the statement knew the statement was not true at the time he made it, or had reckless disregard for whether it was true or not. The view is that public figures chose to put themselves in the spotlight and so they receive less protection regarding defamatory statements.
James O’Keefe brought a Keith Olbermann defamation lawsuit. His success as a blogger may spell his doom on his success as a plaintiff.
- Find a New York Personal Injury Attorney (FindLaw)
- James O’Keefe Sues Current Media, Keith Olbermann and David Shuster for Defamation (Reuters)
- Defamation, Libel, and Slander (FindLaw)
- Defamation in Greg Kelly Rape Claim? (FindLaw’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog)