Covington Kids' Attorney Lists Potential Libel Lawsuit Targets, and It's Fantastic


Attorney Robert Barnes is representing several students from Covington Catholic High School who he says were libeled in the aftermath of the incident at the Life for March.

And, in an appearance on Fox News over the weekend, he listed the individuals he would be going after.

First, those who are in the clear: Rep. Ilhan Omar, who posted a tweet that claimed the students told a woman, “It’s not rape if you enjoy it” and who took the side of the Black Hebrew Israelite sect harassing the students, saying they were harassing the sect instead. Barnes said they asked her to retract the tweet and she did.

Also on that list was comedian Kathy Griffin, who retracted tweets which were aimed at doxing the students.

Then there those facing possible suits. The first mentioned was Reza Aslan, the former CNN host who’s known for his frequently profane rants against anything that has to do with Donald Trump or conservatives.

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Here was his take, not retracted, seeming to call for violence against a minor:

In an interview Saturday with Fox News Jesse Watters, Barnes said Aslan is one possible target of a lawsuit.

Another potential target is Matthew Dowd, the ABC News analyst who first lambasted the kids and then clung to the idea that the fuller video showed them to be racists.

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Those tweets were still up late Monday morning, which means Dowd was looking at a possible lawsuit.

The New York Daily News is another potential target for their article mistaking a Covington Catholic “blackout game” for an instance of blackface.

As Watters pointed out, however, libel lawsuits can be difficult to win.

“From my limited understanding of the law — I did not go to law school — it’s a very high bar, the slander and the libel,” Watters said. “I mean, you have to show malicious intent and knowingly that something is wrong and defamatory. It doesn’t always work in court. Are you confident you’re going to be able to secure judgments?”

Do you think these journalists should be sued?

Barnes pointed out, however, there was a “unique exception.”

“When there is a defamation and libel of private citizens, particularly minors, then the legal standard goes way down,” Barnes said. “So you no longer have to prove actual malice or malevolent intent. All you have to prove is that a false statement was made — or in Kentucky, the law is even broader, ‘an unflattering impression given and a person’s impression in a false light’ — and otherwise … that it just be negligent to do so.”

That, Barnes explained, is why the families gave individuals a 48-hour window to retract or delete their statements.

“If they still refuse to do so, it’s clearly negligent for them to keep false statements up.”

And that’s not something I think the left particularly wants. At least at this point, the media is able to pass the kerfuffle off as a cultural Rorschach test: You see what you want to.

If it gets into a court of law and journalists who should have known better are clearly shown to have not known better, that’s not only going to drag this on — it’s more than likely to move this into a stage where news organizations are going to try to dig up dirt on minors to defend themselves or admit they were desperate to keep the narrative alive.

It’ll likely show, in a very public forum, how they denigrated and villainized underage kids for clicks and ratings.

That’s not a fate anyone who rushed to judgment on this case wants. The longer their arguments are out in the sun of public scrutiny, the more they wither and putrefy — and to a jury, that could look like a large cash award.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture