Judge Shields Esquire Birther Blog as Satire
WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge ruled that an Esquire blog lampooning birther-conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi is satire, protected by the First Amendment.
Corsi, whose book, "Where's the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President" came out exactly one month after the president released his long-form birth certificate, sued Esquire, Hearst Communications and Mark Warren, the author of Esquire's "The Politics Blog," alleging defamation, false light, invasion of privacy, tortious interference with business relations, Lanham Act violations and misappropriation.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer granted the magazine's motion to dismiss.
"Satire such as the Blog Post is protected speech under the First Amendment," Collyer wrote.
She dismissed all the claims made by Corsi, his publisher WorldNetDaily.com, and its CEO Joseph Farah, citing the D.C. Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) Act. Citing precedent, Collyer found that the law grants Warren and Esquire the "ability to fend off lawsuits filed by one side of a political or public policy debate aimed to punish the opponent or prevent the expression of opposing points of view."
Collyer added: "Having become such well-known proponents of one position on the issue, plaintiffs cannot complain that the very intensity of their advocacy also became part of the public debate. Those who speak with loud voices cannot be surprised if they become part of the story."
Corsi also wrote "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak out Against John Kerry," and "Capricorn One: NASA, JFK, and the Great 'Moon Landing' Cover-Up."
In the blog at issue, Warren wrote: "In a stunning development ... World Net Daily Editor and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah has announced plans to recall and pulp the entire 200,000 first printing run of the book, as well as announcing an order to refund the purchase price to anyone who has already bought either a hard copy or electronic download of the book."
An hour after the blog was published, Esquire updated it with a note explaining that the blog was meant as satire.
Corsi and Farah claimed they received calls from "all of the big news agencies across this country," and demanded $120 million in compensatory and punitive damages from Esquire and Warren.
But Collyer found that the blog was "a satirical swipe at plaintiffs, well within the bounds of the First Amendment and thus not actionable."