The Ninth Circuit Revives Defamation Claim Filed By Bergeson, LLP Affiliated Counsel Anthony M. Glassman
On August 24, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit revived defamation claims filed by media attorney Anthony M. Glassman, named partner with Beverly Hills’ Glassman Browning Saltsman & Jacobs, on behalf of televangelist Dr. Frederick K.C. Price against ABC News correspondent, John Stossel. Price v. Stossel, —-F.3d —-, No. 09-55087, 2010 WL 3307482 (9th Cir. August 24, 2010). In the lawsuit, Price claims that Stossel took a brief excerpt from Price out of context. In its decision, the panel noted the risks the news media take when they put words in a public figure’s mouth, and framed the issues in Price’s appeal as whether there are similar risks when a network television program broadcasts a statement actually made by a public figure, but presents the understanding of the speaker’s words. The panel found the context in which Price’s words were presented materially changed the words’ meaning, and because Price has a reasonable possibility of proving that the clip, as broadcast, was false, and because defendants relied exclusively on the issue of non-falsity in their motion to dismiss under the anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation statute, it must reverse the dismissal of the express defamation claim and remand to the district court for further proceedings.
An August 25, 2010 article about the decision published in the Daily Journal quoted Glassman: “‘ABC totally contorted this clip…’ Glassman said. ‘It was a parable, and it reminds me strongly of what happened to Shirley Sherrod,’ the ex-U.S. Department of Agriculture official who was forced to resign when videotape aired of her purportedly prejudiced remarks. ‘To take a brief excerpt dramatically out of context is exactly what happened to my client,’ Glassman said…'”