A $75,000 defamation suit was filed after Tarpley and the Mail posted a story claiming Melania Trump worked for an escort service prior to marrying the billionaire presidential candidate. Trump claims the story references “unfounded rumors and innuendo.”
Webster Tarpley responded to the lawsuit by claiming his “editors, writers and contributors did not generate said rumors” and admitted the story “was not diligent in fact-checking or maintaining a healthy distance between innuendo and fact.”
Tarpley retracted the story and formally apologized. However, this did not stop Trump from going ahead with a lawsuit.
“Melania Trump’s lawsuit against me is without merit. Mrs. Trump is a public figure actively engaged in the Trump for president campaign. We are confident that Mrs. Trump will not be able to meet her high burden of proving the statements published about her on my website were defamatory in any way. Her lawsuit is a blatant attempt to intimidate not only me but journalists of all stripes into remaining silent with regard to public figures. This lawsuit is a direct affront to First Amendment principles and free speech in our democratic society,” Tarpley wrote on September 1.
Prior to the $115 million verdict against Gawker in the Hulk Hogan sex tape case it was rare for public figures to sue unless the target of the lawsuit had money. The Gawker verdict demonstrated it is now feasible to use a lawsuit as a political weapon to take down a media organization.
Hulk Hogan, aka Terry Gene Bollea, was not alone in his lawsuit against Gawker. He had a secret financial backer—Peter …