The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Nice Reputation, Jesse

Posted on | July 30, 2014 | 30 Comments

Ace of Spades calls Jesse Ventura a “conspiracy-addled asshole” and he could have added “selfish,” “dishonest” and “vindictive” to that description without fear of being sued for defamation. The reaction to Ventura’s suing a Navy SEAL’s widow for $1.8 million is ironic: Ventura claimed that his reputation was harmed by Chris Kyle’s book; yet Ventura has inflicted more harm on his own reputation by suing than Kyle ever could have imagined inflicting on Ventura.

Having some direct experience with conspiracy-addled assholes who file lawsuits, and having been a journalist for more than 25 years before convicted bomber Brett Kimberlin had the unmitigated gall to claim I had “defamed” him, let me point out something that is being generally overlooked in the reaction to the verdict in Ventura v. Kyle.

Jesse Ventura’s opposition to the Iraq War, and his paranoid views about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, are a matter of public record, as Noah Rothman says at Hot Air:

Ventura is a noted conspiracy theorist whose kneejerk impulse [is] to blame the American government for everything from the 9/11 attacks, to the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound, to the JFK assassination has netted him frequent appearances on networks like Russia Today.

One can describe Ventura thus, on the basis of information plainly in evidence, without having defamed him. And to voice negative judgments on Ventura’s character — to call him a “kook,” a “crackpot” or a “bully” — is merely to express one’s opinion formed on the basis of readily available information about Ventura, who is a public figure per the Supreme Court’s Sullivan standard.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

How, then, did Ventura prevail in court against Kyle? We can blame the judge and the jury and call the verdict a travesty, yet there is one element of Kyle’s case any newspaper editor would immediately spot as a vulnerability: He asserted private knowledge.

This is a line that no smart journalist would ever cross: To claim to know something bad about somebody, a private fact otherwise unknown, on the basis of information not publicly available.

Any reporter could publish a story about the conflict between Ventura and Kyle — the alleged barroom confrontation at the heart of this lawsuit — and write that Kyle says X, Y and Z happened, including Ventura’s denials that any such confrontation occurred, without fear that his reporting could be construed as libelous.

Kyle’s problem was that, if his altercation with Ventura actually occurred, it was not a matter of public record. Nobody called the cops; there was no police report filed. In fact, it appears that Kyle’s editors at Harper Collins recognized the potential liability involved in publishing that anecdote, so that Kyle’s book referred to Ventura as “scruff face.” It was only in subsequent media interviews that Kyle himself said that Ventura was the subject of the anecdote, and thus the truth or falsehood of Kyle’s version of events — his claim that Ventura said vile things, and that he knocked Ventura down — was central to the defamation lawsuit.

The statements that Kyle attributed to Ventura are certainly consistent with Ventura’s general hostility to the Bush administration and its policies in Iraq. One can easily believe that if Kyle and Ventura got into a quarrel at a bar — and, it is important to note, Ventura does not deny that he was in that bar on the night in question — that Kyle would have taken a swing at Ventura, and it is plausible that the young man in his vigorous prime could have knocked down the older man with a single punch. However, to say that Kyle’s anecdote is credible is a different thing than saying it is provably true. And so it was arguably an unwise risk for Kyle to describe this alleged event as a fact — to assert private knowledge.

All that being said, I do not believe this case was correctly decided. In a defamation case, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant knowingly or recklessly published a falsehood. Based on what has been reported of the trial, Ventura and his witnesses cast doubt on Kyle’s story, but did not disprove it, as witnesses for the defense testified that Kyle told the truth.

If lawyers for Kyle’s estate appeal the case, I feel they have a good chance to overturn the verdict. Meanwhile, we are just days away from the next hearing in the Maryland case of Kimberlin v. Walker, et al., in which the Perjuring Pro Se Pipsqueak is suing me and four co-defendants for $1 million. The prayers and continued financial support of readers are most earnestly solicited.





 

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Comments

  • Pingback: Nice Reputation, Jesse | That Mr. G Guy's Blog

  • Pingback: The Jesse Ventura Defamation Case | Batshit Crazy News

  • Mike G.

    The nicest thing that could be said of Jesse Ventura as a civilian is he’s a big piece of dog excrement and I apologize in advance to dog excrement everywhere.

    However, I do applaud Ventura for his military service.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    So how was Jesse damaged? Beyond the damage he does to his reputation all the time?

  • https://twitter.com/Mthomps016 M. Thompson

    He was no great shakes as Governor, anyhow.

  • Escher’s House

    Kyle’s estate will certainly appeal. There is too much money on the table.

  • JeffS

    Ace is far too kind to Jesse.

  • Matt_SE

    “…to assert private knowledge…”
    Uh oh.
    Is Harry Reid’s [alleged] pederasty private, or public knowledge at this point?

  • Matt_SE

    I like your offhanded praise at the end! It softens the blow somehow.

  • Mike G.
  • Mike G.

    Nor as a wrestler.

  • Ghost

    Because he claims to love America but fear her government, claiming that he said that the seals deserved to lose a few does great damage to his reputation. Blaming the government for conspiracy theories is a hell of a lot different than blaming America, unless you’re all now claiming that Obama and his policies are an accurate reflection of you and your ideals. I know the neoconservatives like to conflate distrust of government with hating America, but they are demonstrably not the same thing. I don’t buy into the truther theories, but given what we know about the government killing it’s own, from poisoning alcohol during prohibition to wholesale slaughter of families in Waco, it’s hardly “crazy” anymore to question the official story of anything.

  • Finrod Felagund

    Nor as an actor. His two best roles were as Captain Freedom in The Running Man and one of the Cryocons in Demolition Man.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    I am not a neo conservative and you are a troll pretending to be a Jesse “The Victim” Ventura fan. Or maybe you are Jesse “The Victim” Ventura himself!

  • Ghost

    For Christ’s sake, lady, I’m ghost. We’ve been over this before. Hell, I didn’t even really defend Ventura except to say that it can no longer be considered crazy to question the official story of anything.

    But if you really want to believe that government was pure and wholesome and incorruptible before ’08, you go right ahead with that fantasy.
    (See, we can both make up BS about each other. Hey! How do we know you’re not really Bill S?)

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Truther theories are toxic BS (hey, just like Bill Schmalfeldt’s initials). I have no tolerance for Jesse and Rosie’s crap. We know who did 9/11. It was Al Qaeda.

    Do I trust the government, hell no. Do I think the Bush Administration or some nefarious cabal in some federal agency orchestrated 9/11? Absolutely not. There is no evidence of that and to keep re-posing the question (by you, Ventura, O’Donnell as a legitimate possibility) is at this point bad faith.

    Do I think there was gross negligence on the part of the FBI, CIA, and other agencies in allowing 9/11 to happen, yes there was. It goes back to Clinton letting Bin Laden go when we had the chance to stop him.

    You have only been posting on this discus account for about two weeks. So yeah, I am skeptical of your bonofides.

  • RichFader

    Jesse Ventura. Proof positive that although the WWE’s bouts may be scripted, the brain damage is very, very real.

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  • Ghost

    You really love demonstrating your illiteracy, don’t you? I say, “I don’t buy into the truther theories,” just that, if you know a single damn thing about history, that it’s not crazy that the government would stage an attack, even kill its own people to go to war. Wilson did it in WW1, sending a passenger ship filled with weapons into German controlled waters. Johnson did it in Vietnam. I don’t think 9/11 was an inside job. I just don’t think it’s crazy if someone else does. But according to you, not thinking someone is crazy is the same as subscribing to their beliefs.

    And in your infinite wisdom, my posting comments that are thread specific, polite, and articulate makes me a troll? Methinks thou doth project too much. “Help! Help! An opinion not in lockstep with my own! Troll! Troll!” Are you sure you’re not a democrat? Because you handle disagreeing views with all the tact of an Anthony Wiener.

    Let that be a lesson to the rest of you lurkers. Try and join the conversation and you’ll be denounced by the resident shrieking banshee.

  • Wombat_socho

    In all fairness, the lawless Chicago style of government perpetrated by the current administration makes a lot of conspiracy theorists suddenly look a lot more reasonable. So both of you just calm down and stop getting personal with each other, before I have to get the hammer out.

  • Meekrob

    He was the drizzling shits as a wrestler. Good promo, though.

  • Meekrob

    Any description of Jesse that doesn’t include the word “scumbag” is incomplete.

  • Conservative Phantom

    I could go with “douchebag” or “scumbag.”
    I think either is applicable. “Craven pussy” works, too.

  • Conservative Phantom

    He was almost a non-entity in “Predator” before he got waxed.

  • Conservative Phantom

    He is something similar to the semi-solid material left over after sewage has been treated…industrial strength diarrhea.

  • Chance Boudreaux

    Just when I thought I couldn’t think less of Jesse…

  • JeffS

    Actually, that’s his greatest moment in acting. Getting waxed, I mean. Rather like Robert Redford’s death scene in “The Winter Soldier”.

    Too bad life doesn’t always imitate art.

  • JeffS

    All three. In tandem.

    “Jesse Ventura is a craven douchebag scumbag pussy.”

    Yeah, that works. And it’s not even private knowledge!

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  • Delaney Coffer

    Sally Jesse Ventura deserves to have his teeth beaten out with a tire iron. What a subhuman piece of garbage.