Mother Jones magazine responds to legal victory
The following is a statement from Mother Jones Magazine regarding its court victory against Frank VanderSloot.
Mother Jones has prevailed on all claims in the defamation case filed by a major Republican donor, Frank VanderSloot, and his company, Melaleuca, Inc. VanderSloot and Melaleuca sued in 2013 over an article published on February 6, 2012, after it emerged that Melaleuca and its subsidiaries had given $1 million to Mitt Romney’s SuperPAC. The Idaho District Court found that Mother Jones did not defame VanderSloot or Melaleuca because “all of the statements at issue are non-actionable truth or substantial truth.”
“We are gratified that this matter has finally been concluded with a resounding affirmation of what we believed all along: Truth is a complete defense,” said Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein.
“We are committed to accurately reporting the facts in every article we publish,” said Editor in Chief Clara Jeffery. “It is a powerful vindication that after a close examination of the voluminous evidence, the court has found that this is what we did in this case.”
The court’s judge’s 56-page decision holds VanderSloot and Melaleuca failed to show that any of the statements they attacked was false. It also holds that the statements were protected by the First Amendment, because Mother Jones laid out the facts on which readers could reach their own conclusions. The decision includes a two-page addendum in which the judge expressed her own thoughts about Mother Jones and the press generally. But she also affirmed the vital importance of protection for free speech and the press: “The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty―and thus a good into itself,” she wrote, “but also is essential to the common quest for the truth and the vitality of society as a whole.”