To the surprise of absolutely no one, the world’s pre-eminent Award Winning Journalist™ — OK, he’s a blogger — Chuck C. Johnson has once again announced a lawsuit and failed to file it in court.
On Thursday, Johnson told The Daily Caller that he would be filing a $66 million dollar libel suit against Gawker.com within the hour. However, it had not been filed as of the close of the business day on Friday.
[NOTE: Media reports that petition had in fact been filed are erroneous, by the way. The online Missouri courts database, Case Net, shows nothing has been filed as yet.]
Johnson’s penchant for threatening lawsuits and failing to follow through has inspired a website, chuckcjohnson.info, which includes a counter for the days since his last threat, and a list of incidents.
In March, Johnson announced he and his lawyer had filed a petition with the Missouri supreme court to gain access to the juvenile records of Michael Brown, the African-American man shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, MO.
It was filed in May, two months later.
In an April interview, journalist Milo Yiannopoulos asked Johnson about this peculiar habit. Johnson himself brought up the issue while discussing “Gamergate” and his love of strategy games.
JOHNSON: … And oftentimes I look like I’m making a mistake, since I threatened to sue all these people, right? And so people say “he’s a paper tiger.”
YIANNOPOULOS: Why do you do that? You’re sort of throwing out these lawsuit threats. What is it about?
JOHNSON: What’s it about, right? The simple answer is I have a year from the point the defamation is made to actually file a suit. If more and more people are defaming me, I have more and more potential damages, and all my competitors can steal my content, and so I don’t have the opportunity to inflict massive damages in the court of public opinion as well in the actual courts, so it’s sort of a strategy I’ve employed and thought about …
Interestingly enough, Johnson’s lawyer Jonathon Burns (aka John Burns) had a similar response when asked by a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter why Johnson, based in California, is suing Gawker, based in New York, in Missouri.
Burns would not elaborate as to why the suit was filed in Missouri, citing “strategy.”
“I will say this: I’m not an idiot,” Burns said.
Legal expert Adam Steinbaugh has some ideas why, though. He’s doubtful this strategy will work.
According to The Daily Caller, Johnson sent a message to its reporter at 2:35 am Thursday, then later called her to add some details.
UPDATE: Charles C. Johnson called. He remarked, “We’re filing within the hour. We’re suing the Gawker employees individually as well as Gawker Media. J.K. Trotter, Greg Howard, Erin Gloria Ryan, and Adam Weinstein. Those are the ones we are for sure suing. That list may expand. We’re also planning on suing @LittleGreenFootballs and Politico. I wish that it hadn’t come to this, but unfortunately these people have removed my right to defend myself on Twitter, so now I have to use the court to defend my reputation. On the whole, it’s nice to team up with Hulk Hogan and his people should call my people. I confess to walking around the house going watchagonnado brother? It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re suing them first in Missouri and then in Fresno. I think it will change a lot of the calculation for the whole media once we start suing the reporters individually. …If I can be the straw that breaks Gawker’s back, I’m quite pleased. By the way we’re also suing CNN and Carol Costello for saying I wanted to assassinate DeRay McKesson.”
Over Memorial Day weekend, Twitter suspended Johnson’s account — apparently for good — after he tweeted that he would pay money for help in “taking out” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. It was the latest in a series of tweets that ran afoul of Twitter’s terms of service and usage rules; Twitter had suspended his account three times in 2014. Johnson continues to insist he has done nothing wrong, and — surprise! — intends to sue Twitter to regain his access.
Johnson’s beefs with Gawker center around articles characterizing him as the “world’s worst journalist” and bringing up allegations of youthful misbehavior that Johnson’s has categorically denied are true. Some of those allegations first surfaced in comments on the blog he maintained in college, so we wonder whether Johnson should be suing himself for libel.
Here’s the text of the as-yet-to-filed libel suit.