Journalist Cassandra Fairbanks says she is suing a Fusion reporter and the New York Times for defamation after the reporter allegedly accused her of being a white supremacist.
Fairbanks, a former Bernie Sanders-supporting Democrat who now backs Donald Trump and currently works for the right-leaning Big League Politics website, filed the lawsuit against the reporter in District of Columbia federal court today. Apparently, the Times lawsuit will come later. [See update below.]
Fairbanks and controversial author and filmmaker Mike Cernovich visited the White House in late April and posed for a picture behind the lecturn of the famous White House press room, the location where Sean Spicer spars with reporters every day.
Both Fairbanks and Cernovich made the usually innocuous OK hand signal for the picture, something other visitors have done in the past.
On April 28, Roller allegedly tweeted out the photo which had been posted online but accusing the duo of making a “white power” hand gesture. The tweet subsequently went viral. The tweet has since been deleted.
The legal complaint filed by prominent California attorney Robert Barnes claims that this was an example of a mainstream media outlet smearing an independent, new media journalist.
“Emma Roller, of Fusion, told the world that Fairbanks flashed a ‘white power’ signal to the world from the media center of the White House. Roller went further, factually telling the world this “white power” signal had been identified as such by the Anti-Defamation League. What was this ‘white power’ signal? The ‘ok’ hand signal. Within days of this false story by Roller — spread to the world through her twitter account, and then throughout the internet — the ADL itself denounced this claim as a ‘hoax’ noting that the ‘ok’ sign had ‘never’ been a white power signal. Did Roller correct her defamation of Cassandra Fairbanks? No. lnstead, on the eve of learning of this lawsuit, Roller deleted the tweet, and tried to destroy the evidence of her saying what she said. and doing what she did. This suit followed.”
Attorney Barnes took the case pro bono, which means that he is not billing Fairbanks for his time or his work on the case. “I’ve been disturbed by people using the leverage of institutional media to harass new media. I’ve been looking for the right case to help advocate for changing that,” he told BuzzFeed.
In her legal papers, Fairbanks alleges four counts: defamation/libel, false light invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional harm, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In addition to money damages, she is also seeking an official retraction of accusation contained in the tweet in question.
According to BuzzFeed, Fusion — which was not named as a defendant — will pay its reporter’s legal fees in the matter. Dodai Stewart, the company’s editor in chief, in a statement, added that the Fusion is standing by Roller.
“Our reporter Emma Roller has not actually been served, but the complaint provided to us by Buzzfeed is clearly frivolous. This suit is an obvious publicity stunt and an attempt to intimidate reporters who scrutinize the activities of the extreme right. We fully support Emma and will defend her.”
In an interview with Gateway Pundit shortly after the incident, Cassandra Fairbanks talked about her plans to file a lawsuit as a result of the white power accusation.
In the aftermath of the allegedly defamatory tweet, Fairbanks quipped on Twitter that “White power!!!!!!! Except I’m Puerto Rican. Can it be PR power?!,” the Independent of London chronicled at the time.
Last month, Cassandra Fairbanks explained in a Cosmopolitan interview that the switch from Sanders to Trump evolved as the left became increasingly intolerant of free speech in her view, along with Trump’s America First policies.
“As she became more disenchanted with the left, she started warming to Trump.”
Watch this space for updates on the Cassandra Fairbanks defamation lawsuit.
UPDATE: Per this tweet, Cassandra Fairbanks is not suing the New York Times.
[Featured Image by Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock]