The Legal War Against Mother Jones
Mother Jones|January/February 2022
"Journalists shouldn’t hide behind a veil of false objectivity."
By Monika Bauerlein

If you’ve been following Mother Jones for a little while, you may have seen our tagline: “Smart, Fearless Journalism.” I like that line, but if I’m being completely honest, the “fearless” part is kind of impossible. There are things that scare us, but there’s also a big reason why we don’t have to run and hide.

Back in January 2019, my colleague Clara Jeffery, MoJo’s editor-in-chief, saw videos online of a rally in Washington, DC. They captured a confrontation between maga-hat-wearing high school students and Native American elder Nathan Phillips. Clara tweeted about what she saw and the media coverage that followed.

Eight months later, a local newspaper reported that a defamation suit had been filed in Kentucky on behalf of several of the students’ families. It named Clara and 11 other people who had tweeted about the incident: Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, CNN commentator Ana Navarro, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and others. The complaint claimed that each of the defendants had been “individually offered the opportunity to correct, delete, and/or apologize for their false statements, but each refused.”

In fact, we had never been contacted by anyone about the tweets. That seemed weird, as did the fact that we hadn’t actually been served with any lawsuit.

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