Opinion

Can Private Lawsuits Rein in Government-Media Tyranny?

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Posted: Feb 07, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Can Private Lawsuits Rein in Government-Media Tyranny?

Source: AP Photo/Ron Harris

What do you do when federal government agents manufacture false rumors that you’re a Russian spy? What if they then launch a phony counterintelligence investigation against a US presidential candidate? What do you do when the mainstream media, weirdly allied with corrupt government officials, furthers their lies about you? Or what if the media accuses an innocent high school student of being a racist, selectively editing a video of said teenager to further that falsehood - all because he’s wearing a MAGA hat? What if you are innocent and state prosecutors charge you with second degree murder based on a fake “witness” they surely know is a fraud?

These are the questions that our surreal times pose. We live in an age in which it has become apparent the government is terrifyingly abusive of the people it ostensibly serves. And of even greater concern, the media, which is supposed to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” is hell-bent on protecting that abusive government. 

It seems that in the year 2020, the way forward becomes clear. The answer to these abuses by the government and their cohorts in the Deep State Media may be through successful private litigation.

An early victory in this new battlefront may have already been won. Nick Sandmann, the MAGA hat-wearing teenager from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, had the misfortune of being approached by a Native American activist named Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial in January 2019 during a pro-life school field trip. Phillips was there as part of an Indigenous People’s March and began beating a drum in Sandmann’s face. Video and reporting of the interaction between Sandmann and Phillips was initially misrepresented to imply that Sandmann had somehow approached Phillips in an aggressive manner, and was part of a racist mob no less! Phillips would later tell the gullible and eager media that the high school students were “attacking” several members of the Black Hebrew Israelites. Soon enough, more expansive, unedited video would show neither aggression nor racism by Sandmann and his classmates.

Chief among the media distorters were CNN, the Washington Post and NBC, who were collectively sued for defamation by Sandmann for aggregate damages of $800 million for their shameful misreporting. Guess what? CNN settled with Messr. Sandmann for an undisclosed sum. That is a signal victory, not only for Nick Sandmann, but for all Americans who have been routinely slandered as racists, xenophobes, bigots and countless other epithets simply because they supported Donald Trump and the traditional, patriotic values he espouses. Let’s see what the Washington Post and NBC decide in dealing with their lawsuits, as well as potentially an additional 12 media defendants Sandmann’s attorneys may sue. Their litigation may go a long way toward convincing the Fourth Estate to be more responsible in its journalistic mission.

A reputed government agent, Stefan Halper, in addition to media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal (in the form of its parent company, Dow Jones), NBC Universal and the Washington Post, was named by British academic Svetlana Lokhova in a defamation suit she brought in Virginia alleging that Mr. Halper launched a smear campaign against Lokhova, insinuating she was a Russian spy while working at Cambridge University, and was romantically involved with Gen. Michael Flynn. Ms. Lokhova strongly rejected the allegations. Her suit alleges that her career was irreparably damaged by the slander. If her case succeeds, it may give operatives working for the federal government, if in fact that’s what Mr. Halper was, as Ms. Lokhova alleges, pause before embarking on campaigns of reputational destruction of innocent parties targeted by our government.

Such abuse of government power, however, can occur at the local level as well, based on allegations contained in another lawsuit, brought by George Zimmerman in Florida. Zimmerman was the hapless community watch volunteer who had the misfortune to encounter Trayvon Martin on a rainy night in Sanford, Florida in February 2012. As Zimmerman sought to aid police in locating Martin, who was lurking suspiciously in Zimmerman’s housing complex which had suffered from serial burglaries, Martin viciously assaulted him without provocation. While receiving blows "MMA style," according to one eyewitness, and getting his head pounded into the concrete by Martin, Zimmerman drew his legally possessed handgun and shot Martin, killing him. 

After being exonerated by a thorough police investigation, Zimmerman was charged and prosecuted for second-degree murder when a mysterious "phone witness" appeared out of nowhere claiming Zimmerman was the aggressor. The recently released fascinating book and movie by the same name, The Trayvon Hoax, proves this witness, Rachel Jeantel, was a complete fraud. Rachel Jeantel took the stand at Zimmerman’s trial and pretended to have been on the phone with Trayvon Martin just prior to his death. Gilbert's film proves in fact the real girl on the phone was Jeantel's half- sister, Brittany Diamond Eugene. Gilbert's research also provides conclusive evidence that Brittany Diamond Eugene was the girl who had spoken to Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump in a recorded phone call, and it was she who had signed and provided a letter to Travyon's mother Sybrina Fulton as well. When Eugene refused to bear false witness to prosecutors, Rachel Jeantel took her place.

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This was serious stuff. The Sanford Police Department had already investigated the events which led to the death of Martin and concluded that Zimmerman had acted in self-defense. But as a result of Jeantel’s allegedly false testimony to prosecutors, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with murder, potentially facing life in prison.

Although her statements managed to get Zimmerman arrested and put on trial, fortunately, Jeantel’s credibility completely collapsed on the witness stand, as she was unable to read the cursive handwriting in the letter to Trayvon’s mother. Zimmerman was acquitted. However, Zimmerman never should have been charged in the first place A recent lawsuit filed by Zimmerman against Jeantel, Eugene, Crump and others, including the prosecutors in the case, the State of Florida and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement alleges that the defendants knowingly conspired to perpetrate the witness fraud and seeks damages for the deprivation of Zimmerman’s civil rights. If successful, the lawsuit may represent a landmark case of an innocent American, who was targeted for destruction by an unholy alliance of corrupt government officials and people seeking profit, fame, and career advancement on a wave of political correctness, fighting back.

It is regrettable that innocent individuals are required to resort to the courts to seek private redress against false claims of being Russian spies, bigots or murderers. But it is even more egregious that government actors would be complicit in furthering the falsehoods, as these lawsuits allege. However, if a few intrepid victims are successful in pushing back against such calumnies, it may go a long way toward righting the behavior of both the media and the government. 

William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private, and non-profit sectors for more than 30 years. He is a senior investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc., and a contributor to TownhallAmerican Thinker, and The Federalist. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.)