GOP Rep. Devin Nunes sues Twitter for $250 million

By Evie Fordham

Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes filed suit against Twitter and some Twitter users Monday for $250 million in compensatory damages, alleging the social media platform engaged in “shadow-banning conservatives.”

“Twitter created and developed the content at issue in this case by transforming false accusations of criminal conduct, imputed wrongdoing, dishonesty and lack of integrity into a publicly available commodity used by unscrupulous political operatives and their donor/clients as a weapon,” Nunes’ legal team wrote in the filing. “Twitter is ‘responsible’ for the development of offensive content on its platform because it in some way specifically encourages development of what is offensive about the content.”

The lawsuit alleges defamation, conspiracy, and negligence, reported Fox News. It also seeks an “injunction compelling Twitter to turn over the identities behind numerous accounts he says have harassed and defamed him,” according to Fox News.

The suit also names former Republican National Committee Online Communications Director Liz Mair. Nunes’ lawyers say her tweets “implied that Nunes colluded with prostitutes and cocaine addicts, that Nunes does cocaine, and that Nunes was involved in a ‘Russian money laundering front.’”

“To be fair, I think [The Fresno Bee] writing up your investment in a winery that allegedly used underage hookers to solicit investment—an allegation you’ve known about for years, during which you’ve stayed invested in it, I might add—did surprise you,” Mair tweeted at Nunes June 22, 2018.

Mair wrote on Twitter Monday after news of the suit broke that she is declining to comment but posted a link for donations to cover her legal fees.

Nunes filed the complaint in Virginia state court Monday and is also seeking $350,000 in punitive damages against Twitter and the specified users. He wrote that Twitter was “knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory—providing both a voice and financial incentive to the defamers—thereby facilitating defamation on its platform.”

Nunes’ legal team also wrote that Twitter should not be exempt from defamation liability because the platform actively curates and bans content to the point that it should have liability like other organizations that can be guilty of defamation, reported Fox News.

Nunes’ filing linked Twitter’s actions to influencing the 2018 midterm elections in which Republicans lost the House of Representatives.

News of Nunes’ suit comes on the same day Twitter said it “mistakenly remove[d]” a tweet from The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis’ account Monday but denied employing “shadow banning” tactics against users.

Twitter representatives, including CEO Jack Dorsey, have been invited to Capitol Hill by lawmakers numerous times to testify on how their platforms deal with issues like terrorist propaganda and more.

Twitter declined to comment on the suit to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/G.dallorto
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4 thoughts on “GOP Rep. Devin Nunes sues Twitter for $250 million

  1. This is my second posting toward this issue… a local phenomenon too.

    Freedom of the Press: A Liberty for All or a Privilege for a Few?
    https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/supreme-court-review/2014/9/sentelle.pdf

    On March 8th, a vociferous, former progressive lobbyist in Vermont wrote a VT Digger commentary entitled ‘The silence is deafening’. In it he characterized “Republicans’ silence” as “loyalty… not to the Constitution for which they swore an oath to uphold, but instead to a man”, as “…when people sat in silence as Hitler rose to power”.
    https://vtdigger.org/2019/03/08/bob-stannard-silence-deafening/?is_wppwa=true&wpappninja_cache=friendly

    Now, it’s not my intent to debate the absurdity of the commentary’s point of view here, such as it is, but to address its curious similarity to the fact that I already tried, without success, to debate it. My ‘silence’ in this case, however, was not self-imposed, and I’m doing what I can to not keep silent about it.

    I continue to be concerned with the ongoing distortion of journalistic tenants practiced by the so-called ‘institutional press’ – including VT Digger – and specifically with regard to Diggers’ willingness to publish nonsense that clearly offends its own commentary guidelines at the expense of alternate points of view. The practice also offends our individual first amendment right to free speech.

    The Vermont Journalism Trust (dba VT Digger) is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization ‘partnering’ with Vermont Public Radio – another 501 (c) (3) organization. Both are financially successful, and both receive significant ‘underwriting’ (i.e. advertising) revenue. Ostensibly, VT Digger’s “…coverage is nonpartisan, and we strive to convey multiple perspectives on issues.”

    However, in practice, while VT Digger does ‘convey multiple perspectives’ to a point, the extent to which its coverage is partisan cannot be exaggerated. And VT Digger’s acquiescence to the above-mentioned commentary, and its rejection of some of the opposing points of view that commentary engendered, exemplify this concern.

    Here is what [VT Digger] block[s]:
    – Hate speech and personal attacks
    – Repetitive talking points
    – Using an article about a specific topic to disparage a broad ideology
    – Arguments between readers
    https://vtdigger.org/vtdigger-commenting-faq/

    What you don’t see is VT Digger’s regular, even systematic, censorship of conforming alternative points of view. Typically its “Comment awaiting moderation”… waiting, waiting, and waiting. Sometimes its Digger’s overt refusal to publish.

    Of course, we can’t surmise the extent to which VT Digger censors liberal/progressive points of view. After all, we wouldn’t see them either. But one need only consider the vitriolic nature of the referenced commentary to be curious as to why VT Digger consented to the characterization of Republican administration supporters as the repugnant submissiveness prior to WWII to Adolf Hitler …. of all people. Why not, for example, make a relevant comparison to Richard Nixon’s citation of the ‘silent majority’ in the late 60s? Or was Nixon just not evil enough to make the intended point?

    VT Digger not only published the comparison of Trump supporters to Hitler apologists, it purged alternate opinions from the discussion. The question is, why was the ‘Hitler’ comparison not viewed by VT Digger as hate speech, or a personal attack, or disparaging of a broad ideology, in the first place? Not to mention VT Digger’s incessant and exclusive publication of the equally offensive and misleading Danziger cartoons accentuating the same bias on a daily basis.

    But I digress.

    The real concern with VT Digger:
    Our first amendment right to ‘individual’ free speech is being modified by the first amendment right of ‘the press’. Individual free speech is in jeopardy. From Google to Facebook to Twitter to Drudge to CNN to The Washington Post to the National Enquirer to Breitbart – it’s not what these institutions publish, its’ what they choose not to publish that’s most threatening. And just because they all do it doesn’t make the practice ethical, or legal.

    Most importantly, however, these institutions, Facebook, Breitbart and the others, are for-profit corporations. As individuals, we aren’t forced to buy their papers or visit their web-sites. But VT Digger is a tax-exempt organization. We all subsidize its practices whether we like it or not.

    In 1974, Justice Potter Stewart opined:
    [T]he Free Press Clause extends protection to an institution. The publishing business is, in short, the only organized private business that is given explicit constitutional protection. This basic understanding is essential, I think, to avoid an elementary error of constitutional law. It is tempting to suggest that freedom of the press means only that newspaper publishers are guaranteed freedom of expression. They are guaranteed that freedom, to be sure, but so are we all, because of the Free Speech Clause.

    “Between 1776 and the drafting of our Constitution, many of the state constitutions contained clauses protecting freedom of the press while at the same time recognizing no general freedom of speech. By including both guarantees in the First Amendment, the Founders quite clearly recognized the distinction between the two…”

    In a further response to the ‘press-as-institution’ view point, Chief Justice Warren Burger said:
    Those interpreting the Press Clause as extending protection only to, or creating a special role for, the “institutional press” must either (a) assert such an intention on the part of the Framers for which no supporting evidence is available …; (b) argue that events after 1791 somehow operated to “constitutionalize” this interpretation … ; or (c) candidly acknowledging the absence of historical support, suggest[ting] that the intent of the Framers is not important today.

    As with the most celebrated representative of the ‘Institutional Press’, the New York Times, its slogan exemplifies this danger as it reserves its authority to determine what ‘all the news that’s fit to print’ actually is.

    Is it hateful? Is it a personal attack? Is it repetitive? Does it disparage ‘a broad ideology’? Is it argumentative?

    Where is it written that these certain adjectives give the ‘Institutional Press’ the authority to suppress contrarian individual points of view? According to these Supreme Court Justices, it isn’t so written.

    Wolves in sheep’s clothing:
    Today, the ‘Institutional Press’, especially VT Digger as a non-profit organization, is on thinning ice. The current Covington law suits against CNN and the Washington Post should serve as a wake-up call to pseudo journalists everywhere. Despite the outcome of these litigations, we should all serve notice on those who control the air-waves and the internet to serve their partisan points of view at the expense of others, no matter on what side of the aisle they reside. A free press is contingent upon individual free speech and expression ‘in general’ – and accountability matters.

    VT Digger, and those who revel in its vitriol, have every right to publish whatever they like, to be hypocritical and exclude dissenting opinion. But if they persist, the IRS should withdraw VT Diggers 501 (c) (3) status and declare it a 501 (c) (4), commonly called a “social welfare” organization that may engage in political activities, as long as these activities do not become their primary purpose. Or, even more accurately, organize as a 527 organization that is created primarily to influence the selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to federal, state or local public office.

    None the less, and no matter what tax-exempt organizational classification VT Digger assumes, its current hypocrisy is unseemly and improper at best. Instead of deceiving Little Red Riding Hood, VT Digger ought to drop its non-profit status.

  2. The extent of damage to our civil liberties and free speech perpetrated by the social media dictators is incalculable and vastly underestimated. If you wonder why, for example, people in Vermont do not dare to put a Trump sticker on their car fearing it will be keyed, or don’t wear a MAGA hat because they will be accosted or worse, or why they don’t dare to reveal they are conservative in their workplace, you only have to look as far as the media and the social media to know why. The fake news media and the conservative-hating bullies running the social media monopolies are directly responsible for the bigoted attitudes and intolerant left-wing behavior in our country. The ultimate irony is they blame Trump for dividing the country when it is exactly they who are responsible. They are the enemies of freedom, make no mistake.

  3. 1/4 million is a start but someone should be in Jail for denying freedom of speech, I think
    the fathers of the country meant for the 1st amendment to 1st for a reason, and the 2nd
    to back up that amendment.

    I hope it’s a big winner along with the Covington Boys suing all the media and leftist sewer
    spewers.

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