Supreme Court Petition 19-6442
The media should be protected to print legitimate news, but they should also be responsible for publishing false information that damages an individual, like any other business. There is nothing in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that concedes that the interests of the Press are more important than the interests of the individual; that the clause of Freedom of Press in the First Amendment overpowers the rights of reputation and privacy of the individual guaranteed to him by the 9th and 10th Amendments.
The opposite; the Constitution sought to fulfill the promises of the Declaration of Independence of 1776 that expressed people’s yearning to be free to develop their God- given talents; the Bill of Rights was created to protect individual freedom.
All historical information only supports the idea that the Freedom of Speech (of every individual; written first than the second part “Freedom of Press”) and Freedom of Press were created to avoid prior restraint, but that, as Thomas Jefferson stated, there were limitations on any right: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.” —Thomas Jefferson to I. Tiffany, 1819. “All natural rights may be abridged or modified in their exercise by law.” —Thomas Jefferson: Official Opinion, 1790.
This case of libel law is respectfully asking for the reconsideration of this Court’s previous decisions in Sullivan and its progeny, including Gertz.
Therefor this case raises the critical issue of whether there were sufficient grounds to establish the actual malice standard and negligence standard and to swath the well established state libel law that was applied until 1964.
These common-law protections for the “core private righ[t]” of a person’s “ ‘uninterrupted enjoyment of .. . his reputation’ ” formed the backdrop against which the
First and Fourteenth Amendments were ratified. Nelson, Adjudication in the Political Branches, 107 Colum. L. Rev. 559,567 (2007) (quoting 1 Blackstone *129).
Before our decision in New York Times, we consistently recognized that the First Amendment did not displace the common law of libel. As Justice Story explained, “The liberty of speech, or of the press, has nothing to do with this subject. They are not endangered by the punishment of libellous publications. The liberty of speech and the liberty of the press do not authorize malicious and injurious defamation.” Dexter v.
Spear , 7 F. Cas. 624 (No. 3,867) (CC RI 1825)
Also, this case calls upon the Court to revise the lower court’s decision (regarding involuntarily limited-purpose public figure and matter of public concern) as it is conflict-ing directly with controlling Supreme Court precedents, and the court of appeal’s decision which the petitioner considers a serious error; all the reasons are thoroughly addressed in this writ.
Also this case questions if there are sufficient facts that render the government a joint participant with NPR thereby invoking the petitioner’s Fourteenth Amendment and procedural due process rights and his first amendment rights; also questioning if National Public Radio has the right to apply prior restraint/censorship on the speech of an ordinary American citizen, abridging his ‘Freedom of Speech’ and the public’s interest in receiving all different viewpoints.
Also this case is questioning the constitutionality of an act of congress and the FCC’s abandonment of the right to reply rule in the case of private or involuntarily limited- purpose public figure that is attacked on print and on the air waves.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
The petitioner William “Billy” Yeager is a songwriter / musician, independent filmmaker, humanitarian and media activist. National Public Radio (NPR, stylized as npr) is an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization based in Washington, D.C. NPR differs from other non-profit membership media organizations, such as AP, in that it was established by an act of Congress  and most of its member stations are owned by government entities (often public universities). It serves as a national syndicator to a network of over 1,000 public radio stations in the United States.
NPR: “Public service should be the goal of any journalist, but it has special meaning for us, because we call ourselves ‘public media.’ Listeners consider public radio an
enriching and enlightening companion; they trust NPR as a daily source of unbiased independent news, and inspiring insights on life and the arts.”
In January 2017, a test pressing of a record album called 301 Jackson St. (recorded by
Billy Yeager in 1989) was sold on Discogs (a website to buy and sell vinyl records) becoming the most expensive record sold on this website.
Over 2 months later, on March 22, 2017, Discogs sent a press release to NPR to share
the news about the sale of the album. The following day, on March 23, at 4 am in the morning, Discogs cancelled the transaction.
6 hours later (without making a single attempt to inform the petitioner about the breaking news they were getting ready to publish against him (which represents a violation of NPR’s Codes of Rules, Standards and Ethics)), NPR broke the news; at 9:48 AM ET (on March 23) NPR published what was supposed to be a “music news article,” not an opinion column.
In the publication of their “news article,” NPR violated their standards (and the standards of the American Society of Professional Journalists) to an unfathomable high degree.
Some of the standards that were violated include:
This excerpt from The Society of Professional Journalists, indicates some of the standards that must be followed when reporting the news:
Objectivity in reporting the news… serves as the mark of an experienced professional. Sound practice makes clear distinction between news reports and expressions of opinion. News reports should be free of opinion or bias and represent all sides of an issue. Journalists at all times will show respect for the dignity, privacy, rights, and well-being of people encountered in the course of gathering and presenting the news. The news media should not communicate unofficial charges affecting reputation or moral character without giving the accused a chance to reply. The media should not pander to morbid curiosity about details of vice and crime. It is the duty of news media to make prompt and complete correction of their errors. Journalists should be accountable to the public for their reports and the public should be encouraged to voice its grievances against the media.
Important fact: No charge (neither unofficial nor official) was ever made against the petitioner; Discogs never accused the petitioner.
National Public Radio’s CODE: “Accurate” means that each day we make rigorous efforts at all levels of the news gathering and
programming process to ensure our facts are not only accurate but also presented in the correct context. We make every possible effort to ensure assertions offact in commentaries, including facts implied as the basis for an opinion, are correct. We attempt to verify what our sources and. the officials we interview tell us when the material involved is argumentative or open to different interpretations. We are skeptical ofallfacts gathered and report them only when we are reasonably satisfied of their accuracy.
We guard against errors of omission that cause a story to misinform our listeners byfailing to be complete. We make sure that our language accurately describes the facts and does not imply afact we have not confirmedand quotations are both accurate and placed properly in context. Take special care with news that might cause griefor damage reputations.
Important fact: Discogs stated there was a buyer and a seller in two different states and with two different IP addresses; this information was omitted (it was neither published nor broadcasted.)
The day following the publication of the news article, on March 24, NPR continued to spread the same defamatory accusations and malicious falsehoods on their radio show “All Things Considered,” which is the flagship news program on the American network National Public Radio; again, the petitioner was not contacted and offered the opportunity to reply and defend himself against the attacks on his character and reputation; there was no “effort” or “attempt” to “ensure” or to “verify” made.
NPR’s CODE: We make every effort to gather responsesfrom those who are the subjects ofcriticism, unfavorable allegations or other negative assertions in our stories. In all our stories, especially matters ofcontroversy, we strive to consider the strongest arguments we can find on all sides. When a person or company has been charged with wrongdoing by official sources, we must carefully avoid presenting facts in a manner that presumes guilt. (NPR’s journalists “must” be careful even when a person has been officially charged; the petitioner had not even been accused.) Ifthe subject ofthe story
doesn’t know what you’re going to report, how can we be fair to them? When news is
breaking, make sure the people we’re attempting to reach know about our deadlines — for the next newscast and the next program, for example. Look for proxies who may be
able to defend their side.
NPR journalists with a role in reporting and producing the news do not deliver commentaries.. .do not opine on matters we cover in the news.. .the public deserves
factual reporting.. .without our opinions influencing what they hear or see.
The petitioner proved to the court the lack of reasonable care and extreme degree of negligence exercised by NPR’s journalists and their superiors.
Both the article and the radio broadcast were completely biased against the plaintiff and contained numerous defamatory false statements that were made with actual malice. All the disclosed facts to support what the court considered ‘statements of opinion’ were made with actual malice; the disclosed facts were misrepresented to the audience, taken out of context, information that was crucial for their understanding was omitted, and in consequence what the public received was a complete distortion of the truth.
Overall, both the article and the radio broadcast described the petitioner as a corrupt individual that had attempted to perpetrate a fraudulent sale because of his “hunger for fame, or infamy.” The news article stated 3 times that the petitioner was motivated by “infamy.” The radio broadcast, again, repeated that the petitioner was interested in “infamy.” Definition of infamy: noun: infamy; plural noun: infamies an evil or wicked act. the state of being well known for some bad quality or deed.
100% of comments from NPR’s readers and listeners were extremely offensive, insulting, contemptuous; the petitioner was even compared to Charles Manson.
NPR’s CODE states: Be judicious when passing along breaking news. When news is breaking, we may need to pass along information reported by others because the public should know about it immediately. This is particularly true when safety is an issue (severe weather events or other types of emergencies, for example).
And again, if we have information that might cause significant grief or might potentially put someone in harm’s way, we do not report it until it’s been thoroughly verified and
senior editors have given their approval. Few in our audience will know or care which
news organization wasfirst to report a breaking news story. But ifwe get it wrong, we leave a lasting mark on our reputation.
Anyfalsehoods in our news reports can cause harm. But errors that may damage reputations or bring about grief are especially dangerous, and extra precautions should be taken to avoid them. In those cases, err on the side of caution. Go slowly, and above all, get clearance from a senior manager.
The accusations National Public Radio published and broadcast against the petitioner were published in a matter of hours even though there wasn’t even an unofficial charge, and there was no evidence to sustain the accusation — Discogs stated that the IP addresses of the seller and the buyer were different and the seller and the buyer were located in two different states; this information indicated the contrary to what NPR reported.
Again, NPR never attempted to give the petitioner the chance to reply and defend himself; the petitioner was never informed about the breaking news; never contacted after the publication of the news; never contacted to be invited to the broadcast; never contacted afterwards.
3 months later, the petitioner himself contacted NPR’s in-house legal counsel Ashley Messenger to ask for the removal of NPR’s article and broadcast, which not only accused the petitioner of committing a dishonest action, but defamed his character, his career, his work and went as far as declaring the petitioner’s life as “one ofpurposeless obfuscation” and stating the petitioner was interested in “infamy” and “the chase of
pulling the wool over people’s eyes” and had “repeatedly poured more of his creative energy into being a trickster-booster than he has as an artist.”
After careful examination of the article and broadcast and talking to the responsible parties, Ashley Messenger got back in contact with the petitioner. As an experienced media law attorney, if Messenger would have thought that NPR had done nothing that could cause liability she would have said so; that was not the case. Messenger began asking the petitioner if he could provide NPR with the names of the seller and the buyer, because NPR did not have this information, meaning that she admitted that NPR had published and broadcasted a defamatory accusation of fact without proof.
The petitioner replied, “weren’t you supposed to know?”
Already under severe depression, NPR’s attitude did not set well with the petitioner; there was no genuine emotion of concern for what NPR had unjustly and wrongly done to a human being.
The petitioner began to send Ashley Messenger the same information that was seen by NPR’s journalists prior to the publication of the article and broadcast; NPR removed the article from NPR’s website; the petitioner informed NPR that the removal of the article would not be enough to compensate for all the damage done; NPR put the article back on their website.
Messenger remained in communications with the petitioner and his wife for 3 weeks about the matter (until the petitioner decided to file his lawsuit); she stated in an e-mail
“we are taking this very seriously.” The petitioner refused to answer questions regarding issues that should have been investigated and asked prior to the story and broadcast that was shared all over the world to millions of people destroying the reputation and work of the petitioner.
After all the harm that had been done (not just to the petitioner, but his wife, and others), complete lack of due care and abandonment of their codes, the petitioner was not going to accept some corrections and a retraction of the article (what about the millions of people that heard the radio-broadcast?).
(The petitioner wanted the removal of the defamatory story and broadcast, a true apology, a public statement to the audience explaining what NPR had done wrong, a new article and broadcast telling the truth about his and his wife’s work and mission and benefit concerts, and recompense for damages to his work and health. NPR never showed the least empathy or compassion; their behavior showed they were primarily concerned about protecting themselves, their reputation, and their money.)
The petitioner continued to send much more of the same facts that were ignored by those who were responsible for the article and the broadcast; including a video (over an hour in length) showing footage that revealed the truth of the petitioner and his wife’s work and people giving testimony of what they had felt watching their films and videos; Messenger brought the members of the corporate team together to watch it.
During the year 2016, the petitioner and his wife, together with many others, had been preparing a series of benefit concerts (in an underground missile base in KS) to provide wheel chairs to landmine victims in third world countries where there are still many
people who can’t afford a wheel chair. This information which was located in the petitioner and his wife’s websites was also sent to Messenger who shared it with the corporate team. NPR was also informed that due to their article and broadcast the concerts had been destroyed.
The owner of the missile base heard NPR’s broadcast and he stated to the petitioner that NPR was saying “very bad things about you… That you were a huckster and a charlatan…” Not only National Public Radio didn’t inform the public about the benefit concerts, but due to NPR’s accusations the owner of the missile base wanted to permanently cancel the concerts.
( NOTE: THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE MANY LINKS PROVIDED IN Appellate Case: 18-3252 Document: 010110105133 Date Filed: 01/03/2019 Exhibit. Q http://exhibitscase.blogspot.com/2018/03/exhibit_37.html)
After reviewing all the evidence, Messenger wrote an e-mail to the petitioner stating:
“We misunderstood you. ”
“Misunderstood” was not just an insult after all the damages; “misunderstood” was not simply a misnomer, but a soft persuasive manipulation of words that underneath imply a total admission of guilt; “mistakes” and “misunderstandings” in this case mean “false defamatory allegations,” there is no middle ground, this is libel.
In the same e-mail NPR (instead of removing the article and the broadcast) offered the petitioner to “write my own story” (which represents a complete violation of their CODE of rules and ethics), on a “condition” however. Messenger wrote: “We think our audience would be best served by having you say for yourself what your purpose has been.
You may write up to 1500 words in a response that addresses what you would like the public to know about your career, your motives, your desire to change the world.
I hope you ’ll take us up on this offer to allow you to communicate your vision to our audience. Ifyou like, 1 can arrange to have one ofour top editors work with you on crafting a response that will cover what you want to say.
To be clear, NPR is not promising to publish it; we will decline to do so if we believe it would not serve our audience or might create liability. Given our communications,
however, I would expect that you can articulate your highest ideals and your artistic vision”
After accusing the petitioner of being a fraud to millions of people; after painting the petitioner in a most negative “false light;” after summarizing his whole life as one of
“purposeless obfuscation, ” and stating he is motivated by “fame and infamy, ” they ask him to talk about his career, his motives, his desire to change the world, when all this information was in the petitioner and his wife’s websites; why is the petitioner being asked to do the job that NPR’s professional journalists were supposed to do?
It is obvious why NPR offered the petitioner to write his own story (something never heard of, which is not in accordance with their rules); this would have protected themselves from any liability; if NPR had written a different story that contradicted their original story themselves, they would have had to admit fault to their audience and their Ombudsman for publishing and broadcasting false and defamatory information.
(NOTE: This is another violation oftheir code ofethics. “In 2000, NPR became thefirst U.S. broadcast news organization to create an Ombudsman.” “The Ombudsman’s office
serves primarily as a liaison between the newsroom and listeners.” “We read over 100 of these emails per day.” “Listeners raise ethical issues and question NPR’s adherence to its journalistic standards.” “We investigate listener concerns and issues ofjournalism ethics and occasionally suggest changes.”)
Thecourtofappealswrote:He contacted attorney Messenger and requested that NPR remove the article and the interview from its website. She refused, but offered Mr. Yeager the opportunity to respond in an NPR forum. He declined.
The court of appeals omitted crucial information; NPR never offered an opportunity to respond, but a “censored opportunity” (with prior restraint).
NPR: To be clear, NPR is not promising to publish it; we will decline to do so ifwe believe it would not serve our audience or might create liability.
(This issue of prior restraint, censorship, and point of view discrimination is being addressed in question # of this writ.)
With a great lack of knowledge in libel law, the petitioner filed his original complaint. The District Court in Kansas stated that the article and the broadcast involved a matter of public concern and that plaintiff’s part in the story makes him in a limited-purpose public figure. (This decision is addressed in questions # 1 and # 2 of this writ.)
The petitioner argued he was a private figure and not a limited-purpose figure to the Court ofAppeals for the 10th Circuit; the Court ofAppeals stated: Although Mr. Yeager may have preserved his argument as to whether he is a limited public figure and whether Mr. Flanagan made the
“purposeless obfuscation” statement with actual malice, he does not address the court’s alternative grounds for dismissal of the defamation claims.
Regarding the court of appeal’s reason for dismissal of the petitioner’s case, the petitioner considers that this decision involves an outlandish error, for there are no alternative grounds to protect the specific defamation claim addressed in the brief to the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit (or other defamation claims addressed in the motion for reconsideration.)
Questions 9 & 10 of this writ address this error which contradicts the precedent established by the Supreme Court in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal. In Milkovich v. Lorain Journal the Supreme Court stated: If a speaker says, “In my opinion John Jones is a liar,” he implies knowledge of facts which led to the conclusion that Jones told an untruth. Even if the speaker states the facts upon which he bases his opinion, if those facts are either incorrect or incomplete, or if his assessment of them is erroneous, the statement may still imply a false assertion of fact… can cause as much damage to reputation… As Judge Friendly aptly stated: “[It] would be destructive of the law of libel if a writer could escape liability for accusations of [defamatory conduct] simply by using, explicitly or implicitly, the words ‘I think.'”
Not only were the facts on which the respondent purported to base his ‘statements of fact couched as an opinion’ (which represents the “alternative grounds” the court is referring to) incorrect, or assessed erroneously, but they were purposely misrepresented, assessed erroneously and delivered in an incomplete manner omitting crucial information.