One of President Donald Trump’s most prominent defenders annihilated Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) lawsuit against Twitter during an interview on Fox News Wednesday, calling the suit “wrong from a political and ideological point of view.”
Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, whom the president has called a “Great American Hero” for his stalwart pro-Trump efforts, filed a lawsuit Monday accusing the social media platform and some of its users of corrupting “American Democracy and society by intentional falsehoods, fraud, and defamation.”
Nunes has specifically demanded Twitter reveal the identity of the user behind the account “Devin Nunes’ Cow” (or @DevinCow), which posts mocking tweets and puns about the congressman, including phrases like “Devin’s boots are full of manure” and “He’s udder-ly worthless,” and allegations that Nunes “conspired with a criminal, @realDonaldTrump, to conceal the facts from” special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Nunes claims the tweets constitute defamation and says Twitter should have removed them.
Trump himself tweeted an article about the $250 million defamation suit later on Monday, published by The Daily Beast.
Fox News has given a great deal of attention to the lawsuit in recent days, as part of its continuing coverage of a widely debunked conspiracy that Twitter is secretly discriminating against conservatives. Nunes himself appeared on Hannity on Monday to explain his case. But on Wednesday morning, America’s Newsroom hosted Harvard Law emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz, a Trump ally, and asked him about the Nunes lawsuit.
Dershowitz argued that Nunes had “no case at all.”
“No, he has no case at all and it is wrong from a political and ideological point of view,” Dershowitz replied. “If you don’t like what Twitter is doing, create an alternate company. If you don’t like what Facebook or any of the others are doing, the American way is competition.” The law professor then cited Fox News as proof that this was possible.
“[T]he law in the United States is you can’t defame a group,” Dershowitz continued. “You can’t defame conservatives. You can only defame individuals. If you’re a public figure, in order to be defamed you have to prove reckless disregard for the truth.”
Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitano, made a similar point on Tuesday, telling Fox & Friends that even if Twitter mistreated Nunes, it is not illegal.
“[I]f it happened to me I’d be furious,” Napolitano opined. “But it’s not illegal. They’re not the government.”
Nunes did get some support from Fox News host Sean Hannity, who said Monday that he would follow the case and believed there was “a lot more to this story, a lot more than may meet the eye.” However, even Hannity expressed concerns about whether Nunes’ case met the “high bar” for defamation.
“You do have a high bar,” he said, “because you’re a public figure, you need actual malice, and what’s known as a reckless disregard for the truth… or else I would sue people every hour of every day.”