“A Matter Of Public Concern”: Court Dismisses Lawsuit Of Former Rep. Katie Hill Against The Daily Mail

I printed about the defamation claims filed by former Rep. Katie Hill has lost a lawsuit against her husband and many different other folks, including the Daily Mail for reporting on her sexual scandal involving a former aide.  I stated that the legal basis for the litigation against the media was highly dubious and the underlying stories were shielded under the First Amendment as matters of public interest. As anticipated, the case against the Daily Mail was thrown out by Los Angeles Judge Yolanda Orozco on First Amendment grounds.

In 2019, former Hill resigned from Congress following the revelation of sexual connections with a team member.  The scandal involved 22-year-old staffer Morgan Desjardins who’d a three dimensional relationship Hill along with her then-husband Kenny Heslep that started shortly after she started working for Hill at 2017.
Ordinarily, the media and various public interest groups would have been outraged and unrelenting in their”MeToo” policy, particularly with a young staffer recently from college. In the instance of Hill, nevertheless, media outlets like MSNBC picked up on Hill’s claim that she had been exposed to   a”double standard” and also a”misogynistic culture.”

It is argue against the media parties that worries me the most in this action. The 41-page lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages for emotional distress and breach of state legislation for distribution of romantic private substance without Hill’s permission, against defendants Salem Media Group Inc., Mail Media, Inc., author Jennifer Van Laar (the deputy managing editor of Redstate.com), along with Joseph Messina, the host of”The Real Side” Radio Show, as well as other unnamed people. 

Not merely did the litigation threaten core media protections, however innovative (with the support of sympathetic media in CNN and MSNBC) a false story of Hill as a victim.  It was astonishing to observe media support a politician asserting a double standard in being forced to step — looking for an accommodation that was denied to male colleagues in previous scandals. Various male politicians in Sen. Bob Packwood to Rep. Trent Franks have resigned under such scandals. Sen. Al Franken stepped for functions that didn’t involve an authentic sexual affair. Hill marketed that story and is currently bizarrely treated by most as a victim.
That treatment stopped when she tried to make such arguments in court against the media. Hill was tough that the publishing of photos that included an image of Hill nude holding a bong emblazoned with a skull and crossbones and also a photo revealing a tattoo with an Iron Cross Seeing a Nazi emblem on her bikini line.
In dismissing the claims against the Daily Mail, Orozco dominated that

“the romantic images published by Defendant talked to Plaintiff’s personality and qualifications because of her position, since they allegedly depicted Plaintiff using a campaign staffer whom she had been alleged to have experienced a sexual affair with and seemed to show Plaintiff employing a then-illegal medication and demonstrating a tattoo that was controversial because it resembled a white supremacy emblem that was a problem during her effort.”

The court stated that evident that such images are obviously related to a core matter of public interest from the scandal:

“Plaintiff’s argument that the images aren’t a matter of public concern since Defendant could have simply described the images instead of publishing them is unpersuasive, since the simple fact that advice to be gleaned from a picture could be disseminated in an alternative manner doesn’t equate to a finding that the picture itself is not a matter of public concern.”

Notably, the Daily Mail reported on the ruling by republishing the very exact photos.
This is the right choice. It is notable however that the Daily Mail gained from our defamation standards, that are protective of journalists.  As shown recently in the instance involving Meghan Markle, the judges in Great Britain have precious few such protections. It is also notable that two characters lionized by the media on networks like MSNBC have launched frontal attacks on the network and its capacity to report on newsworthy controversies.