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Rep. Devin Nunes scored a victory in one aspect of one of his defamation litigation against members of the media.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld on Sept. 15 that Nunes’s claim that a tweet promoting a story linking Nunes’s family’s dairy farm to illegal immigration a year after its publication qualifies as libel. However, it maintained that a lower court was correct in siding with reporter Ryan Lizza and publisher Hearst Magazine Media that the original story did not qualify as libel on its own. The case will now return to the lower court.
Lizza wrote an article titled “Devin Nunes’ Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret” in Esquire in 2018. Nunes filed a lawsuit claiming that the article implied that the farm, which he personally has no financial stake in, relied on the labor of illegal immigrants. Lizza then tweeted a link to the story in 2019, an act the court ruled constituted republishing the story.
I noticed that Devin Nunes is in the news. If you’re interested in a strange tale about Nunes, small-town Iowa, the complexities of immigration policy, a few car chases, and lots of cows, I’ve got a story for you... https://t.co/yzXHlCihDY
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) November 21, 2019
"The complaint here adequately alleges that Lizza intended to reach and actually reached a new audience by publishing a tweet about Nunes and a link to the article,” the court's opinion says. “Lizza tweeted the article in November 2019 after Nunes filed this lawsuit and denied the article’s implication. The pleaded facts are suggestive enough to render it plausible that Lizza, at that point, engaged in 'the purposeful avoidance of the truth.'”
The year 2019 was a litigious one for Nunes. The California Republican filed defamation lawsuits against multiple media outlets and individual journalists arguing that they were spreading false and malicious information about him due to his support of then-President Donald Trump and his investigations into allegations of Russian collusion. Most of these cases have been dismissed.
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Original Author: Virginia Aabram