Years before “cancel culture” became a widely used phrase, climate scientist Michael Mann set out to cancel National Review.
He launched a meritless libel suit explicitly with the goal to destroy us.
How do I know? Because he said it in black-and-white in an email uncovered in discovery.
Before launching his suit, he deemed us a “threat to our children,” said we are beholden to “greedy fat cat corporate masters,” and called us a “filthy organization.” He wrote, boastfully, that there “is a possibility that I can ruin National Review” and relished the prospect of bringing us “down for good.”
Isn’t “science” wonderful?
Eight years after he launched his suit, not much has happened, except countless motions, counter-motions, appeals, and sundry other filings have kept piling up the billable hours — just as Mann intended.
Astonishingly enough, we have spent millions of dollars on legal bills during the course of the litigation, with no end in sight. Even if we prevail in our latest motion to dismiss, Mann will surely appeal, and keep bleeding us and bleeding us.
For now, much of the expense is covered by litigation insurance, but not all of it, and our policy isn’t inexhaustible.
Why do I tell you this? First, because if you want to let Mann know what you think of his harassing litigation and fortify us against this assault upon our very ability to publish, I humbly suggest that you contribute to our new fundraising drive.
We can use every dime of support.
Second, because the Mann suit partakes of the deeply intolerant impulse in contemporary progressivism, which believes silencing its opponents is better than debating or competing with them in the intellectual and political arena.
We are, as Charlie Cooke put it in a recent cover story, in an “illiberal moment.”
The press and academia, which should be bastions of free speech, are leading the way in closing the American mind. The campus mindset has made the leap to corporate America, where woke sensibilities are increasingly ascendant. And even the ACLU is no longer a reliable supporter of free speech.
In this environment, it’s essential that conservatives continue to speak the truth without fear, something we do every day, whether on trans issues, affirmative action, Black Lives Matter, urban disorder, or policing.
And we have to call out the censors, extol the First Amendment, mock the humorless, skewer hypocrites, inveigh against injustices, and always remember that, no matter how powerful and inexorable the woke tide of intolerance seems, there is a vast persuadable bloc of America that will eventually, so long as we keep making the case, say “enough.”
Finally, we need to keep dissenting voices on the playing field, another reason I hope you’ll consider giving to our webathon, whether it’s $25, $100, or $1,000.
National Review is a rare creature in our media landscape, an independent-minded voice of right reason that isn’t motivated by clicks or ratings. We have always depended on people who realize how important it is to have a place that musters the best conservative arguments, that won’t back off its principles, that is open to debate, and that opposes the aggrandizement of the state and any and every threat to our constitutional system.
Too many people haven’t looked at the Bill of Rights lately and reminded themselves that the amendment protecting freedom of speech comes first. We should want a society that is not only free of government encroachments on speech but that provides the widest reasonable ambit for free expression as a matter of practice, so college campuses, entertainment companies, online retailers, and newspapers aren’t acting as censors and suppressors.
It is clear that a great fear is stalking the land, a fear of the cultural Left that is so pervasive and powerful that completely innocent people feel compelled to issue groveling apologies worthy of the Cultural Revolution when the woke police come for them.
It is important in this environment to defend free speech as a matter of principle. To bring it full circle, that’s why when Michael Mann came for us, we said, “No, we are going to stand up for free expression and not allow such a bogus suit to chill us or other media outlets.”
We have fought this suit up and down every court available to us, including the Supreme Court. We didn’t get the high court to take up our case, but in a forceful dissent from the decision to take a pass, Justice Samuel Alito said the case
presents questions that go to the very heart of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of the press: the protection afforded to journalists and others who use harsh language in criticizing opposing advocacy on one of the most important public issues of the day.
He’s right. We could have folded at any point. We didn’t. We put our money — millions of it, as it turns out — where our mouth is.
If you believe in free speech, in fighting the cancelers, and in fearless conservative journalism, I’m hoping you will as well, by chipping in whatever you can.
Thank you very much.