The New York Post settled the libel lawsuit filed by two Boston Marathon spectators over the Post‘s cover calling them “Bag Men” and suggesting they were the bombers.
While the Post had stood by its cover, it apparently caved and settled. According to the Associated Press, “neither side would disclose terms of the settlement,” but they both agreed to settle.
Max Stern, the lawyer for Barhoum, told iMediaEthics by e-mail: “We are pleased to have reached an amicable resolution of the case.”
The Post‘s April 18, 2013 photo showed a photo of two men, unrelated to the bombing — Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi. The FBI confirmed to iMediaEthics last year that it didn’t release the photo of Barhoum and Zaimi. See below the cover.
While the cover doesn’t state the men were the suspects, it strongly gave the wrong impression to many readers — including iMediaEthics — that they were somehow responsible. Following the Post’s cover, the FBI released photos of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as their suspects.
Earlier this year, Judge Judith Fabricant allowed the two men’s libel lawsuit to move forward when she rejected the Post’s call to dismiss the lawsuit, according to a statement published on the website for Barhoum’s lawyer.
Despite the Post‘s claims they weren’t saying the men were suspects, Fabricant said, according to the Washington Post, that
“To the contrary, in the court’s view a reasonable reader could construe the publication as expressly saying that law enforcement personnel were seeking not only to identify the plaintiffs, but also to find them, and as implying that the plaintiffs were the bombers, or at least investigators so suspected.”
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple commented that it’s “too bad” that the terms aren’t public because “just what the New York Post did to make this civil action go away is a matter of great public interest.” He added that he hopes the Post “dished out a large sum for the misery it visited upon two innocent young people.”
iMediaEthics has written to both sides for comment.
Hat Tip: Media Bistro’s Morning Newsletter