Sheriff Joe Arapaio’s libel lawsuit against CNN, Huffington Post and Rolling Stone has been dismissed.
Arpaio’s lawsuits claimed the news outlets libeled him by saying he either was a convicted felon or had been in prison. Arpaio sued the three outlets the three in December 2018. Arpaio was convicted of criminal content, a misdemeanor, in 2017 but was pardoned.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo had wrongly called Arpaio a convicted felon, but corrected that he was convicted of a misdemeanor “within minutes,” the ruling notes. Rolling Stone called Arpaio an ex-felon, but corrected the error “within hours” with an apology. The Huffington Post claimed Arpaio had been sent to prison, but the article was corrected “within two days.”
In an Oct. 31 ruling, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s Royce Lamberth sided with the news outlets’ requests to dismiss. “Defendants argue that the statements were substantially true, but even if they were not, Mr. Arpaio has not alleged any facts tending to prove actual malice,” the ruling states, noting the news outlets all also filed motions to have the lawsuit dismissed under the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act.
The ruling states the lawsuit was dismissed because Arpaio “failed to articulate any facts of actual malice.”
“The Court will not pry open the gates of discovery just because Mr. Arpaio believes the erroneous communications were motivated by differences in political opinion,” the ruling continues.
The ruling did state “the Court will deny defendants’ motions to dismiss pursuant to the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act.”
iMediaEthics has written to the three news outlets and Arpaio’s lawyer.
Hat Tip: The Hollywood Reporter