On Wednesday, the Fresno Bee editorial board excoriated Devin Nunes (R-CA) for suing McClatchy Company and the Bee for $50 million. Nunes, who is also suing Twitter, contends that the Bee defamed him by publishing a story about a yacht party with cocaine and sex workers, put on by a winery that Nunes had invested in — even though the story did not suggest Nunes himself was at the party.
The Bee calls his lawsuit baseless and calls on the Congressman to prioritize the needs of his constituents over frivolous lawsuits that could have a chilling effect on a free press.
“Nunes has no hope of winning either suit,” the Bee notes. “The Tulare Republican should instead use his considerable influence to focus on what is important to his central San Joaquin Valley constituents — improving economic conditions, solving the immigration impasse so farmers can have a secure labor force and finding ways for new water supplies to be developed.”
The story also fact checked a few of the claims in the lawsuit, laying out why Nunes has no case:
Claim: “McClatchy and its co-conspirators relentlessly attacked Plaintiff both in print and digitally — falsely and maliciously accusing Plaintiff of horrible crimes and improprieties…”
Fact: The story never accuses Nunes of any crime or improprieties. It does, however, show what he invested in. It notes that Nunes at that time had few other investments, making the winery more important in his portfolio. It is a time-honored tradition for news organizations to report on financial holdings of their elected officials because that is relevant to the voters’ understanding of their representatives.
They conclude that Nunes’ legal action is tantamount to harassment.
“The reality is Nunes is looking to harass The Bee and its parent company over a bogus lawsuit that will cost time and money to defend,” they write.
“Like most of his last term, this effort will be a waste of time that should be better spent on issues that matter. We know we would rather spend our time on issues of significance to people in the Central Valley.”
“When it comes to making a difference, The Bee provides daily stories about people, places and events in the Valley. The best way to put this lawsuit in its place is to support The Bee and local journalism. You can subscribe online at www.fresnobee.com.”