Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Ca) is suing the McClatchy newspaper company, claiming the company’s Fresno Bee article was “character assassination” against him.
Nunes wants the Fresno Bee to unpublish its article and for the company to pay him $150 million, according to the New York Times. The Fresno Bee’s 2018 article was headlined “A yacht, cocaine, prostitutes: Winery partly owned by Nunes sued after fundraiser event.”
The lawsuit alleges McClatchy “schemed to defame [Nunes] and destroy his reputation” in order “to interfere with [Nunes]’s Congressional investigation of corruption by the Clinton campaign and alleged ‘collusion’ between the Trump campaign and Russia durin the 2016 presidential election.”
In a statement published in the Fresno Bee’s news story about the lawsuit, McClatchy called the suit a “baseless attack on local journalism and a free press” and an “unproductive distraction and a misuse of the judicial system.” The statement adds:
“Representative Nunes declined the opportunity to talk to reporters from The Fresno Bee last year about his investment in the Alpha Omega Winery, the subject of his claim. Hopefully, he will provide such answers during the litigation.
“Moreover, while he filed his lawsuit in the state of Virginia, California law applies to this case and it outlines steps to demand corrections for the benefit of any individual who feels he or she has been libeled. In the over 10 months since the winery article appeared, Mr. Nunes has not once availed himself of the statute by writing to the Fresno Bee to demand that it publish a correction to any statement made about him.
“He did however find the time to produce a video and a 40-page mailer distributed to constituents attacking The Fresno Bee and its coverage of the Alpha Omega winery case. Logically, California is a more appropriate location to try this case since Mr. Nunes represents a constituency in California, McClatchy is based in California – for 162 years – and The Fresno Bee is the Representative’s hometown newsroom.
“We find it ironic that, rather than sue in his home district, he chose Charlottesville as the location for his suit, a town associated with Thomas Jefferson, a founding father who was a strong advocate of the First Amendment.”