Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, who last week trashed the media over its coverage of the Ukraine controversy, is taking his challenge to “fake news” a step further.
Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Saturday that he plans to file lawsuits against CNN and The Daily Beast regarding their recent coverage of him, according to Breitbart.
With some variations, the two media outlets both recently published stories claiming that Nunes worked with Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who has been indicted by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on campaign finance charges.
CNN’s version includes an alleged secret meeting in Vienna between Parnas and Nunes, who denies the substance and innuendoes in both stories.
CNN has reported that when a CNN reporter went to ask Nunes about the alleged Vienna meeting, Nunes would not respond to questions.
“I don’t talk to you in this lifetime or the next lifetime,” Nunes said, adding, “At any time. On any question.”
CNN said that it asked again at a later date and received a similar reply.
“To be perfectly clear, I don’t acknowledge any questions from you in this lifetime or the next lifetime,” Nunes said. “I don’t acknowledge any question from you ever.”
In his statements, Nunes said CNN and The Daily Beast failed to do their homework.
“These demonstrably false and scandalous stories published by the Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth,” Nunes said in a statement published by Breitbart.
To win a libel lawsuit, public figures such as Nunes must be able to prove that defamatory statements were published with reckless disregard for the truth — in other words, that a publisher knew something was false but published it anyway.
“Some political operative offered these fake stories to at least five different media outlets before finding someone irresponsible enough to publish them. I look forward to prosecuting these cases, including the media outlets, as well as the sources of their fake stories, to the fullest extent of the law,” Nunes said in the statement.
“I intend to hold the Daily Beast and CNN accountable for their actions. They will find themselves in court soon after Thanksgiving,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Nunes used his opening statement at the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry hearing to slam the media.
“If you watched the impeachment hearings last week, you may have noticed a disconnect between what you actually saw and the mainstream media accounts describing it,” Nunes said.
“When you saw three diplomats, who dislike President Trump’s Ukraine policy, discussing second-hand and third-hand conversations about their objections with the Trump policy. Meanwhile, they admitted they had not talked to the president about these matters. And they were unable to identify any crime or impeachable offense the president committed,” he said.
“But what you read in the press were accounts of shocking, damning and explosive testimony that fully supports the Democrats’ accusations. If these accounts have a familiar ring, it’s because this is the same preposterous reporting the media offered for three years on the Russian hoax. On a nearly daily basis, the top news outlets in America reported breathlessly on the newest bombshell revelations showing that President Trump and everyone surrounding him were Russian agents,” Nunes said, before recounting some of the false headlines.
“There was no objectivity or fairness in the media’s Russia stories, just a fevered rush to tarnish and remove a president who refuses to pretend that the media are something different from what they really are: puppets of the Democratic Party,” he said.
Nunes said the media refuse to learn.
“With their biased misreporting on the Russia hoax, the media lost the confidence of millions of Americans and because they refuse to acknowledge how badly they botched the story, they’ve learned no lessons and simply expect Americans will believe them as they try to stoke yet another partisan frenzy,” he said.
Nunes said the peddling of “fake news” cost the media the trust of the American people.
“The media, of course, are free to act as Democrat puppets and they are free to lurch from the Russia hoax to the Ukraine hoax at the direction of their puppet masters. But they cannot reasonably expect to do so without alienating half the country who voted for the president they’re trying to expel.
“Americans have learned to recognize fake news when they see it, and if the mainstream press won’t give it to them straight, they’ll go elsewhere to find it. Which is exactly what the American people are doing,” Nunes said.
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