Anti-immigration website VDARE’s founder Peter Brimelow has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the New York Times for libel over an article in which they referred to the website founder as an “open white nationalist” in an effort to slime Rep. Steve King.
The New York Times later stealth-edited the article to change the phrasing — inadvertently admitting that they knew it was wrong.
The 2019 article in question, “A Timeline of Steve King’s Racist Remarks and Divisive Actions,” originally referred to Brimelow as an “open white nationalist” while attacking Rep. King for appearing on a panel together at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). After being contacted by Brimelow, the newspaper changed the article to remove the word “open” from their description and link to an SPLC page about VDARE.
The Times did not include a correction, editor’s note, or publish a comment from Brimelow defending himself. The newspaper also continued to smear him throughout 2019, without any effort to get a comment or publish his side of the story.
In Brimelow’s complaint, lawyers assert that the Times “meant and intended to expose the Plaintiff to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, and disgrace, to lower his reputation, and to deter decent people from associating or dealing with him.”
While Brimelow is certainly an immigration hawk, he has long maintained that he is not a “white nationalist,” but a civic nationalist — the difference being that he believes in putting Americans and their interests first based on citizenship, not skin color. He was previously an editor for Forbes magazine and a columnist for National Review.
In fact, VDARE says explicitly on the website’s Frequently Asked Questions that it is not a white nationalist website, but rather “a forum site that will publish anyone, of any political or racial persuasion, who has a rational criticism of post-1965 immigration policy.”
Speaking to the Gateway Pundit, Brimelow said that this is the first lawsuit VDARE has actually filed against a news organization that has libeled them. He said that they have “prodded a couple since we realized we had to fight back a couple of year ago, but this is the first suit we’ve actually filed.”
When asked why he decided to go through with a lawsuit this time, Brimelow said that “basically, because we’ve realized that mud sticks, in the age of the internet, and also because VDARE.com along with the entire Dissident Right is on the verge of being driven right out of the public square by Silicon Valley SJWs who specifically cite the smears used by the NYT et al.” He added that “we’re in Death Ground—we have to fight or die.”
The constant libel and attacks on Brimelow and his website have had serious professional consequences for the author, who was once a darling of the mainstream media.
“Over time, it has destroyed my MSM career. Twenty-five years ago this month I published a widely-reviewed book on immigration with Random House and was a Senior Editor with FORBES Magazine. Now, no major publisher will touch me, I’m never invited on TV or radio, and I can only write for my own website, which Silicon Valley SJWs are working on demonetizing and deplatforming,” Brimelow said. “This isn’t because my views have changed, it’s because of relentless smearing and guilt-by-association aimed at suppressing any dissident on immigration until the Left has succeeded in Electing A New People.”
Much of the libel and slander about Brimelow has not been based on his own beliefs or statements, but rather guilt-by-association over writers he has opted to publish on his website. VDARE has long published work from an array of personalities, from mainstream voices such as Michelle Malkin, to edgier commentators from the dissident right. When asked why he continues to publish controversial people, the publisher asserted that he “genuinely believes in robust uninhibited and wide open debate.”
“To quote Judge Brennan’s talismanic phrase from Sullivan, no such debate is possible if we steer clear of controversial figures. My position is that I’m only responsible for what they say on VDARE.com—always reasonable if politically incorrect—and I just don’t accept Guilt By Association (which used to be a Leftist No-No) about what they may have said elsewhere,” Brimelow said.
Brimelow explained that “First Amendment freedoms” do little to combat ideological conformity because “the problem arises not from governmental coercion or formal strictures, but from being ‘condemned loudly’ in a mass society. Precisely what New York Times did and does: condemn loudly.”
In an article on VDARE explaining the lawsuit, Brimelow explained that “libel protection was gutted for elected officials, later expanded include to all so-called ‘public figures,’ by New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), in which the U.S. Supreme Court (Earl Warren, proprietor) unilaterally rewrote the law in order to get some black Civil Rights activists who had published untruths about a Southern law enforcement official, and their ideological ally, the New York Times, off the hook.”
Because of the outcome of the Sullivan case, other libel lawsuits against mainstream media outlets have often failed due to being unable to prove “actual malice,” a hard standard to reach in a case from a public figure. Brimelow contends that it should not be a problem in his lawsuit because “the New York Times has already conceded that it was wrong in calling me an ‘open white nationalist’ by making a stealth edit, but won’t acknowledge this in defiance of its own published policy. It also continued to libel me, without any attempt to get my side, throughout 2019.”
“Extreme departure from normal reporting standard is one indication of ‘actual malice’ under Sullivan and progeny. We think such departure is evident here,” Brimelow said. “Also, it’s knowingly hypocritical to channel SPLC and attack me as ‘white nationalist’ for publishing allegedly controversial science on race differences when NYT itself did exact same thing (repeatedly) under Nicholas Wade, as detailed in complaint.”
Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Politico that “we stand by the story and will vigorously defend.”