Mother Jones wins suit against wealthy political donor
October 9, 2015 6:19 PM   Subscribe

For three years, Mother Jones has been litigating a defamation suit over a piece that drew attention to the political activites of wealthy billionaire Frank VanderSloot. "This was not a dispute over a few words. It was a push, by a superrich businessman and donor, to wipe out news coverage that he disapproved of. Had he been successful, it would have been a chilling indicator that the 0.01 percent can control not only the financing of political campaigns, but also media coverage of those campaigns."

You can read the full text of the decision here.
posted by sciatrix (30 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not going to say what I think about Melaleuca, because I have a strong opinion and people with strong opinions in this matter seem to end up in court.

Instead I'll just say two things:

1. Yay for this judge's decision!

2. There could not possibly be a better "wealthy billionaire" name than Frank VanderSloot. Sorry, Scrooge McDuck.
posted by mmoncur at 6:39 PM on October 9, 2015 [27 favorites]


What a clearly written and logical decision! Although I could have done without the concern trolling about the golden age of journalism at the end.

Someone who knows more about the law than I do—what does it mean when a judgment is not entered as final until the plaintiff's trial with the other defendant concludes? What are the ramifications of such a thing? And is there any news or other information about VanderSloot v. Zuckerman? The future of journalism seems to be individuals versus publications like Mother Jones, and it would suck if Mother Jones won but Peter Zuckerman lost.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:49 PM on October 9, 2015


Techdirt's take.
posted by jamjam at 6:54 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vandersloot on The O'Reilly Factor in 2012 as a victim of "political terrorism". (Not even having anything to do with defamation: merely discussing his donations publicly was the act of "political terrorism".)
posted by XMLicious at 6:56 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Note this from the bottom of the MJ article:
For his part, Vandersloot issued a statement saying he had been "absolutely vindicated" and announced that he was setting up a $1 million fund to pay the legal expenses of people wanting to sue Mother Jones or other members of the "liberal press."
In the O'Reilly Factor clip they're talking about how he's being "shut up" because he might feel too ashamed to donate to the Romney presidential campaign again.
posted by XMLicious at 7:02 PM on October 9, 2015


So anti-SLAPP laws are on a state-by-state basis, nothing at the country-wide federal level? That's too bad.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2015


Since then, Mother Jones and our insurance company have had to spend at least $2.5 million defending ourselves.
That's a win for VanderSloot.
he was setting up a $1 million fund to pay the legal expenses of people wanting to sue Mother Jones or other members of the "liberal press."
It ain't over.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:23 PM on October 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh what I would give for VanderSloot to become the new slang for "rich asshole trying to get his way because he has more money than you". Apologies to all the kind generous VanderSloots out there unfairly tainted by this.
posted by downtohisturtles at 7:30 PM on October 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by multi level marketing."

Don't watch the O'Reilly link without Pepto bismol and a couple of lorazapam handy.
posted by Alter Cocker at 8:20 PM on October 9, 2015


1) Santorum
2) VanderSloot
3) ???
posted by Windopaene at 8:48 PM on October 9, 2015


VanderSkoot previously...
posted by Catblack at 9:17 PM on October 9, 2015


Someone who knows more about the law than I do—what does it mean when a judgment is not entered as final until the plaintiff's trial with the other defendant concludes? What are the ramifications of such a thing?

It means that neither party can file an appeal of the decision unless they have a special status/situation that allows them to file an interlocutory appeal (meaning an appeal you can file before a given lawsuit is "over", for various definitions of "over"). Neither of these parties is at all likely to be able to file an interlocutory appeal, so this keeps them from filing any appeals.

The judge likely is trying to make the process of appeal easier for someone. My guess is it's his colleague(s) on the appellate bench, but I don't really know.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:40 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, this lawsuit was against someone that declared or implied that VanderSloot is a homophobe.

Is VanderSloot a homophobe? Well, he did pay for billboards that declared "Should public television promote the homosexual lifestyle to your children? Think about it!"

Should he win a slander suit? I think he should. Not against the people he sued though. I think the folks that printed "Is Pyramid Scheming Mormon Billionaire Frank VanderSloot Secretly Using Mitt Romney’s Candidacy to Promote Occultism and Pedophilia"?* are better candidates for a slander suit.

Oh, wait, satire is protected? No slander suit for you, Mr Sloot. I mean, I'm pretty sure it's satire.
posted by el io at 10:34 PM on October 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not a form of litigation I support. I feel bad for Mother Jones. Hopefully they got pro bono help or similar.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:45 PM on October 9, 2015


She also included a passage expressing her own opinion of Mother Jones, and of political news coverage in general.

WHY YES MOTHER JONES THAT IS A FACTUAL STATEMENT.

VanderSloot loses
Mother Jones loses
Darla Williamson wins
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:57 PM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmm. Mother Jones has been nagging about the Adblock on my browser. Wankers. Guess I'll subscribe, now.
posted by notyou at 11:55 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


> wealthy billionaire Frank VanderSloot.

There's another kind?
posted by hank at 12:04 AM on October 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'd love to know the candidates position on proposed federal Anti-SLAPP legislation.
posted by Marky at 12:19 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Certainly, Hank. There are all sorts of non-wealthy billionaires. That's why so many of them work so hard to avoid paying taxes. Won't someone think of the poor billionaires, many of whom have never seen a penny in their lives?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:21 AM on October 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Really. If you ask one, he'll go on and on about maintenance and staffing costs of his houses and the unconscionable increase in yacht-mooring fees.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:11 AM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


In this town, we used to talk about real vs. paper millionaires. Back when companies thought stock options were good compensation.

But, yeah. That phrase seems a little...

Rich?

(sorry)

(not sorry)
posted by clvrmnky at 7:05 AM on October 10, 2015


1) Santorum
2) VanderSloot
3) ???


4) Profits!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:12 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


They intrusively questioned our employees—our reporter was grilled about whether she had attended a Super Bowl party the night she finalized the article.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)
posted by Fizz at 7:23 AM on October 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm happy Mothers Jones won. I've been reading their articles for a year or two now, I think I might subscribe and pay some money to help support them. It's just a shame that any of this was necessary to begin with, so enraging.
posted by Fizz at 7:36 AM on October 10, 2015


> I'd love to know the candidates position on proposed federal Anti-SLAPP legislation.
> posted by Marky


Thanks for the link, Marky. Though the proposed federal law mentioned there is sponsored by Blake Farenthold and Darrell Issa, so I'm suspicious of it. Though it's also sponsored by the first openly gay parent in Congress, who has a strong civil liberties and anti-war record. Gaaah, I no longer know how to cope with genuine cross-party cooperation.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:10 AM on October 10, 2015


So Peter Zuckerman is a friend of a friend. He can be a bit of a jackass at times, but he is, first and foremost, an excellent reporter. He has a knack for digging up material that pisses off the powers that be. I hope he wins. I hope he finds a way to get VanderSlott back into the news as an asshole. (VanderSlott, if I remember things correctly, is Dutch for son of Slott. Slott appears to be a corruption of Sloot, which (according to the internet) is Dutch for dike. I'm not saying anything, as I don't have the resources to put up with any kind of lawsuit, but homophones may, perhaps, be a powerful motivator in homophobia.)

I remember when Peter broke the pedophilia story and how he was then outed and threatened. I didn't realize that this asshole was behind it. I really hope this gets broadcasted far and wide.
posted by Hactar at 11:08 AM on October 10, 2015


I hope he finds a way to get VanderSlott back into the news as an asshole. (VanderSlott, if I remember things correctly, is Dutch for son of Slott. Slott appears to be a corruption of Sloot, which (according to the internet) is Dutch for dike.

It's kind of funny how you take it this far without noticing your typo.

posted by indubitable at 11:54 AM on October 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Though the proposed federal law mentioned there is sponsored by Blake Farenthold and Darrell Issa, so I'm suspicious of it.

Some of the more significant cognitive dissonance I have had to deal with in my professional life for the last few years has been the result of
  • my certainty that Darryl Issa is a horrible stain of a human being
  • The fact that Issa has been an absolutely fantastic worker on the cause of government transparency and bringing the House's information handling and sharing into the 21st century.
So now when Issa is involved with something that sounds good I just shrug and go straight for the Godwin: even Hitler liked dogs. I suspect that he visualizes a world where these things we both like would be used for repugnant ends. But .
posted by phearlez at 1:14 PM on October 12, 2015 [2 favorites]






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