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Mann v. National Review, Inc.

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20169
Nos. 2012 CA 008263, (D.C. Sup. Ct., 07/19/2013)

A D.C. court held that a climate scientist may go forward with his defamation suit against a conservative publication and think tank. The publication and think tank had commented that the scientist engaged in "data manipulation," was the man behind the "fraudulent climate-change 'hockey stick' graph," and that his work was "intellectually bogus," among other statements. In response to the scientist's lawsuit, they filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that their comments were protected by the First Amendment. But while the First Amendment protects statements of opinion, the statements must be purely opinion and not stem from facts. Here, considering the numerous articles that characterize the scientist's work as fraudulent, combined with the assertions of fraud and data manipulation, the publication and think tank have essentially made conclusions based on fact. Moreover, there is sufficient evidence to find that further discovery may uncover evidence of "actual malice." The court, therefore, denied the defendants' motions to dismiss.