Fox News reports that Nunes named Republican political consultant Liz Mair in yesterday’s complaint, alleging that she conspired with McClatchy reporter MacKenzie Mays to “spread a variety of untruthful and misleading smears — including that Nunes ‘was involved with cocaine and underage prostitutes’ — online and in print.”
The lawsuit claims the defendants “abandoned the role of journalist, and chose to leverage their considerable power to spread falsehoods and to defame” the congressman for “political and financial gain.”
Specifically, the lawsuit cites a Fresno Bee article titled, “A yacht, cocaine, prostitutes: Winery partly owned by Nunes sued after fundraiser event.”
The article addresses allegations from a lawsuit which claims “25 of the Napa Valley-based [Alpha Omega Winery]’s top investors, all men — [who] were openly using what appeared to be cocaine and ‘drawing straws’ for which sex worker to hire.”
Nunes’ lawsuit claims, “The McClatchy headline intentionally omitted the word ‘charity’ and labeled the event a ‘fundraiser’ in a clear effort to imply it was a political fundraising event that a politician like Congressman Nunes would naturally attend.”
Nunes said that despite the fact that the winery explicitly told McClatchy that the congressman was unaffiliated with the event, the news service wrote in its article, “[i]t’s unclear … if he [Nunes] was … affiliated with the fundraiser.”
The newspaper also attempted to make a connection between the winery’s Russian clients and Nunes, who–at the time–was heading up the investigation into allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.
A series of unmentioned “stealth edits” were made to the article post-publication. The original article stated that the winery serviced “Russian clients while the congressman was at the helm of a federal investigation of Russian meddling into the presidential election.”
Eventually the sentence was changed to make it clear that the wine sales to Russians came years before the Russia probe began: “Nunes’ ties to [the winery] made national headlines last year because it was discovered the winery sold wine to Russian clients in 2013. The discovery came amid Nunes’ ongoing involvement in a federal investigation of Russian meddling into the presidential election.”
Nunes told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last night, “They need to retract everything they did against me, but they also need to come clean with the American people. Retract all of their fake news stories. This is part of the broader clean-up. Remember, a few weeks ago, I filed against Twitter — they’re censoring conservatives. McClatchy is one of the worst offenders of this. But we’re coming after the rest of them. I think people are beginning to wake up now, I’m serious — I’m coming to clean up the mess.”
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