That’s the problem with freewheeling litigiousness: Everybody can do it. So discovered the notoriously thin-skinned and hysterical Michael Mann this week when he described Australian journalist, Andrew Bolt, as a “threat to the planet” who was paid by Rupert Murdoch to “lie” to the public:
Bolt, who was quick to note that “normally I do not sue,” didn’t take the accusation lying down, explaining to Mann that he had “published an outright lie that defames me” and warning him to “apologise for your lie or risk facing from me what you’ve done to Steyn.” “Delete your tweet,” Bolt demanded,
and issue a public apology on the same Twitter account within 24 hours. Failure to do so will not only cast doubt on your commitment to truth in debates on global warming, but expose you to legal action.
For a man who so arrogantly considers himself to be an arbiter of truth and of decency, Mann managed to get an impressive amount wrong in just 140 characters. As Bolt explained:
I do not lie and am not paid by Rupert Murdoch to lie. You have not identified in your tweet a single example of an alleged lie, which suggests you simply made up this defamatory claim.
Indeed, you were so reckless with the facts that your tweet links to an obvious parody Twitter account run by one of my critics which you have clearly believed is mine.
Your other link is to the website of a warmist journalist who for years was a Murdoch columnist, too, writing on climate change. Was he, too, paid by “villainous” Rupert Murdoch to “lie to public”?
I’ve since learned that you last year retweeted another defamatory comment: “No other media organisation in any other civilised nation would employ #AndrewBolt as a journalist”.
As it turns out, that, too, is incorrect. I am not only employed by News Corp but by Australia’s Network 10 and Macquarie Radio Network, where I host a weekly television show and co-host a daily radio show respectively. I have also appeared as a commentator on other media outlets, including the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Al Jazeera, the BBC and Canadian radio stations. I am very confident I would be able to find work as a journalist in another “civilised nation”.
I note this because repeated defamations under Australia’s law is evidence of malice – and your history of defaming me shows a complete disregard for the facts.
Other than that, though, the accusation was just stellar.
Mann quickly backed off, writing on Twitter, “I have removed a tweet where I referred to a “lie” by Andrew Bolt. I apologize for the use of that term.” “What I meant,” Mann continued, “was that Andrew Bolt had promoted falsehoods about me in his column. These are not necessarily lies.”
Come to think of it, that would make a rather good strap line on Mann’s own website: “Not necessarily lies.”