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VanderSloot Vindicated in Mother Jones lawsuit

Business & Money

IDAHO FALLS – Frank VanderSloot claimed victory Tuesday in his lawsuit against Mother Jones. Although Judge Darla Williamson dismissed VanderSloot’s lawsuit against Mother Jones on legal technicalities, the court vindicated VanderSloot in his claim that the Mother Jones article was nothing more than an attack on him because of his political donations to Mitt Romney. The court wrote a 50-page explanation that Mother Jones’ statements were “opinions” and that you cannot sue someone for their opinions, “however unreasonable” those opinions may be.

But then, the judge made the following statement:

“This decision grants summary judgment in favor of the Mother Jones Defendants. Even so, the Court finds Mother Jones’ reporting styles, and indeed the general trend in political journalism, troubling. The Court record and, in particular, [an email from Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer], illustrates Mother Jones’ determination to present a biased article by offering a skewed view of the Plaintiffs.…”

“Mother Jones describes its articles as ‘smart, fearless journalism,’ ‘ahead of the curve’ and ‘about reporting.’ Contrary to its perception of itself, this case illustrates the non-objective bias of Mother Jones and its approach in seeking out only the negative to support its position; resorting to sophomoric bullying and name-calling to lead the reader to adopt its particular agenda.”

“The Founders of this country expected that democracy would thrive only if the press was not hindered in its reporting upon the actions of government and the governors, James Madison, in 1825, wrote: ‘The diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.’”

“But the journalistic model revealed to the Court in the record of this lawsuit is anything but a ‘guardian of true liberty.’ Instead, it is little more than mud-slinging, advertised as journalistic fearlessness, which offers very little in the way of a complete or balanced picture for its readers. Instead of being a leader in educating the people about civil discourse in an era of increased political polarization, the press in general, and Mother Jones in particular, leads the way in demonizing, rather than fairly discussing, those whose points of view differ from its own.”

The judge went on to say:

“Mencimer’s e-mail sheds a sad light upon the media’s bitter practices of ad hominem attacks to boost revenue and to focus the reader’s attention only upon the negative, without any balance of any kind.”

In response to the decision, VanderSloot said, “I feel absolutely vindicated. The judge gave us much more than a jury could have ever given us. This case was never about money. Our attempt was to vindicate our good name and to point out what type of sleazy journalism that Mother Jones put out to attack conservative positions. In our case we made a large donation in support of Mitt Romney and so they attacked me to punish me for the donation. The judge made it clear that is what happened here and that Mother Jones has little regard for the truth in its attempts to smear people it disagrees with. This case will not need to go to a jury. We are happy with that. A jury could not have given us a bigger win. We got more than what we hoped for from the court.”

Tom Clare, one of VanderSloot’s lawyers, stated, “This case was never about financial damages. It was about setting the record straight. We were going to ask the jury to award only $1 in damages, but the Court’s conclusions regarding Mother Jones’ ‘skewed’ and ‘biased’ reporting about Mr. VanderSloot are far better than any $1 verdict. It is great to get this result. My client has been totally vindicated.”



Read Mother Jones response to the lawsuit here.

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