Reporting as close to the truth as possible and correcting inaccuracies when they occur are hallmarks of real journalism. Knowingly publishing lies to serve a political purpose is not journalism. It’s propaganda, and people who deal in that kind of information are not journalists. When their lies put others in danger, there should be consequences.
That’s why I’m about to do something that makes me uncomfortable, as someone with a healthy respect for freedom of speech. I’m going to sue two such people, Max Blumenthal and Benjamin Norton, for libel and defamation. I’m not doing this simply because they published lies that hurt my reputation and career, although they did. Unfortunately, the Internet can be an ugly place. I’ve had much worse things said to and about me without resorting to legal measures.
This lawsuit is about something much more important than my feelings. It’s about fighting a coordinated effort to attack, discredit and endanger journalists whose work counters a certain political line. It’s about protecting reporters in dangerous places at a time when most terrorists and war criminals have Twitter accounts. And it’s about pushing back against the forces that would silence anyone who presents inconvenient truths to the public.
The complaint I’m about to file, with the help of a law firm that has taken on the case pro bono, details a long list of politically motivated attacks against myself as well as many other journalists, rescue workers and activists whose work counters Russian and Syrian propaganda. These coordinated attacks frequently put my personal safety at risk by alleging that I am an agent of the U.S. or Israeli governments. In the places I report, such accusations could result in detainment, deportation, arrest or worse. This lawsuit is not meant to pursue a personal vendetta but instead uncover the motives for Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Norton’s participation in a dangerous campaign of disinformation against people whose work threatens Russian and Syrian interests. [Continue reading…]