TO: NATIONAL REVIEW & NRO READERS
FROM: NR Publishers & Editors
Just about a year ago National Review was sued by a southern Californian Muslim Activist, Hussam Ayloush, who is the executive director of the southern Californian office of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The suit arose when a guest article by Shawn Steel on NRO stated that Ayloush co-hosted an event at which an Egyptian Muslim leader called Jewish people the “descendants of apes.”
As it turns out, Mr. Ayloush was not at the event and did not co-host it. However, another branch of CAIR did sponsor the event and the remarks were made. Even though NR acknowledged that Mr. Ayloush was not at the event, he still pursued the suit. As it was expressed by CAIR-LA Communications Director, Sabiha Khan, “We hope this action will deter hate-mongers from undermining the character and work of those who do not share their extremist views.”
We viewed this as an attempt to intimidate and punish NR. We probably could have settled early and cheaply, but we took the more principled route–we fought back. We asked the court in Orange County, California to throw out Mr. Ayloush’s lawsuit because it lacked any merit. And the court agreed. In February, the court found that Mr. Ayloush failed to establish that the article was defamatory, failed to demonstrate that the article was false, and failed to produce evidence that NRO knew the article was false or acted recklessly in publishing it.
Fortunately, California has a law that allows libel defendants such as NR to recover their attorneys’ fees when they win a frivolous case like Mr. Ayloush’s. Unfortunately, according to Mr. Ayloush’s lawyers, Mr. Ayloush did not have nearly enough money to cover our expenses. In a settlement reached a few weeks ago, Mr. Ayloush agreed to pay us $2,000. To his credit, Mr. Ayloush acknowledged it was a mistake to sue NR and apologized for dragging NR into his lawsuit. But the financial damage was done.
It was a very costly affair. Even though we have libel insurance, it comes with a $50,000 deductible. That, along with other attendant costs, brought our entire defense expenditure to more than $65,000–money that NR can ill-afford. At the time, we were contemplating setting up a defense fund, which we felt would have attracted not only donations but media interest as well. However, we decided against it because the litigation was still pending.
So now we are out $65,000, money that came right out of NR’s budget and should have been used to pay some bills. So, once again, we turn to you. If you would like to help defray this expense–let’s call it a post-defense defense fund–you can make a contribution via Paypal or send it directly to National Review (215 Lexington Avenue; 4th Floor; New York, N.Y. 10016). Anything you can do will be gratefully accepted.