According to Mother Jones:
In 2012-after writers for National Review and a prominent conservative think tank accused him of fraud and compared him to serial child molester Jerry Sandusky-climate scientist Michael Mann took the bold step of filing a defamation suit. The defendants moved to have the case thrown out, citing a Washington, DC, law that shields journalists from frivolous litigation. But on Wednesday, DC Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg rejected the motion, opening the way for a trial.
Although public figures like Mann have to clear a high bar to prove defamation, Weisberg argued that the scientist’s complaint may pass the test. And he brushed aside the defendants’ claims that the fraud allegations were “pure opinion,” which is protected by the First Amendment:
Accusing a scientist of conducting his research fraudulently, manipulating his data to achieve a predetermined or political outcome, or purposefully distorting the scientific truth are factual allegations. They go to the heart of scientific integrity. They can be proven true or false. If false, they are defamatory. If made with actual malice, they are actionable.
Weisberg’s order is just the latest in a string of setbacks that have left the climate change skeptics’ case in disarray. Earlier this month, Steptoe & Johnson, the law firm representing National Review and its writer, Mark Steyn, withdrew as Steyn’s counsel. According to two sources with inside knowledge, it also plans to drop National Review as a client.
So, yes, “public figures like Mann have to clear a high bar to prove defamation,” but right now it’s looking like Mann may win anyway. Which is great news on many levels, of course. The only problem? It doesn’t go far enough. Because, sad to say, it wasn’t just National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute who defamed/libeled Michael Mann (e.g., by comparing him to Jerry Sandusky). For instance, a Google search of “Michael Mann” and “charlatan” turns up 276,000 results, including “Michael Mann, climate charlatan,” by the far-far-far-right-wing “Daily Caller” (no, I’m not linking and giving them any traffic). Another Google search, this time for “Michael Mann” and “liar,” turns up 1.2 million results, including articles like “Shock News: Michael Mann Is A Liar” in something called (ironically?) “Real Science” (again, why link and give them any traffic?). On and on it goes, including Virginia right-wing blogs galore. Go to any of them (or use Google), search for Michael Mann, and see what you find. It’s not a pretty picture, including mentions of Mann and…yes, you guessed it, child rapist Jerry Sandusky. They also accuse Mann – one of the top climate scientists in the world, and a man of utmost integrity – of “data manipulation” and other “shenanigans,” having “something to hide,” etc, etc. All I can say is, after Mann wins (hopefully) his libel lawsuit against the National Review, I hope he files a lot more libel lawsuits. They are badly needed and richly deserved.