The Daily Mail is suing Gawker for libel over Gawker’s March 2015 article by former Mail employee James King accusing the Mail of “ripping off” other news outlets.
As iMediaEthics previously wrote, King, a former reporter for the Mail, wrote a tell-all about his time at the publication and accused it of fakery, sensationalism and a lack of online attribution. The Mail quickly denied King’s claims.
The Mail sued Sept. 3 (Gawker posted the lawsuit here). The Mail said King’s article for Gawker was “replete with blatant, defamatory falsehoods intended to disparage the Mail and harm its reputation by falsely claiming that The Mail‘s business model is based on the systematic misappropriation of intellectual property, plagiarism of other news outlets and publication of false and inaccurate information.”
The Mail claimed King’s article “falsely accuses the Mail of creating an institutional culture of dishonesty and improper attribution by training its employees to deceptively cite sources or to not cite them at all.” The Mail‘s lawsuit said King’s claims were “demonstrably false.”
“Neither The Mail nor its editors condone or encourage — nor have they ever condoned or encouraged — dishonesty, theft of copyrighted material, fabrication, or plagiarism in the reporting, writing or publishing of articles, and neither The Mail nor its editors train employees or freelance independent contractors to avoid or disguise attributions to source materials,” the Mail‘s lawsuit says.
It further claims that Mail‘s editors say they “had to repeatedly remind Defendant King of the need for proper attribution and to add hyperlinks to articles on which he worked during his time performing work for the Mail.” The Mail also claimed that an unpublished article by King was plagiarized and that he was an unreliable employee.
The Mail‘s lawsuit alleges that King “consistently failed to understand and/or implement proper attribution in his work and lacked the ability to create original work” for the Mail.
The Mail‘s lawsuit said that King first tried to get the Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple to publish the story, but when Wemple contacted the Mail for comment, the newspaper sent back “in detail” denials of the claims King made. “After receiving and reviewing The Mail‘s repsonse to Defendant King’s accusations, Mr. Wemple and The Washington Post decided not to publish Defendant King’s article about the Mail,” the lawsuit said, adding that the Mail “sent multiple letters” to Gawker denying King’s claims “both before and after” publication.
After the lawsuit was filed, Wemple wrote on his own blog that he “declines to expand upon this matter here or anywhere else.”
Gawker Media said in a statement on its website about the lawsuit:
“While we’re not surprised that the Daily Mail doesn’t like what James King had to say about his time working there, this baseless complaint doesn’t even attempt to refute the vast majority of the author’s detailed anecdotes about his experience as a Daily Mail writer.”