Thin-skinned, technically-not-a-felon coal baron Don Blankenship has agreed to drop our client, Wonkette, from his bogus lawsuit targeting more than 100 individuals and media organizations.
Blankenship had accused the progressive news site and its owner, Commie Girl Industries, of conspiring with the likes of Fox News personalities, Mitch McConnell, and even Donald Trump Jr. to defame him.
Wonkette’s transgression? One of its writers accidentally referred to Blankenship as a felon one time, despite having carefully noted several times in the past that he was actually guilty of a misdemeanor in connection to the deaths of 29 coal miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine.
Blankenship claims the parties named in his lawsuit conspired to cost him the 2018 Republican Senate Primary, in which he lost to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey by more than 20,000 votes.
Media organizations have broad constitutional rights under the First Amendment to report on public figures like U.S. Senate candidates, and small websites and individuals rarely have the same access to resources as large media organizations.
“Targeting these entities is a blatant attempt to stifle the first amendment rights of the press,” said Loree Stark, ACLU-WV legal director. “While we consider our client’s dismissal from the suit to be a win for Wonkette, suits like this one continue to signal how vital it is to defend the free press rights of organizations large and small.”