Fox News signed onto a legal brief asking an appeals court to reconsider its decision reviving a defamation suit filed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) against journalist Ryan Lizza.
Three Republican-appointed judges on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals revived the defamation suit against Ryan Lizza and his former employer, Hearst Magazines, over a tweet he posted in November 2019 linking to an article he'd written for Esquire about Nunes' family dairy farm, and Fox News joined nearly three dozen media outlets in asking the court to reconsider, reported Vanity Fair.
"[If] permitted to stand," the amicus brief warns, "[the ruling will] lower the bar" for public officials "to state claims for defamation and encourage the filing of meritless defamation lawsuits by imbuing them with the power to stop subsequent critical speech."
The conservative network, which frequently hosts Nunes to discuss other lawsuits against media outlets and critics, was joined in the filing by Associated Press, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and numerous others.
"The wide array of news organizations getting involved — from legacy outlets...to newer entities like Vox Media, ProPublica, and Vice to non-traditional publishers like Substack — indicates how seriously major media players regard the outcome of the case," reported Politico, where Lizza now works.
The Nunes suit claims Lizza libeled him by tweeting the link to a story he had already sued over and had that case dismissed by a district court, but the appeals court revived some portions of the complaint by ruling the tweet was "republication" of the reporting -- which legal observers say is a break with previous case law.
"Journalists rely on a wide and long-standing judicial consensus that providing a reader with a hyperlink to an article does not republish it for purposes of a libel claim," the brief states. "They also rely on long-settled precedent holding that receiving a prepublication denial from the subject of a critical report does not, on its own, establish actual malice in publishing the report."