Failed Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship filed a massive defamation lawsuit on Thursday against dozens of news outlets and media personalities for referring to him as a “felon” during his 2018 run in the West Virginia primary.
While Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, spent a year in federal prison after a misdemeanor conviction for conspiring to violate safety regulations prior to a deadly mining disaster in 2010, he was acquitted of all felony charges.
Blankenship — whose campaign rose to national prominence after he ran an ad dubbing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “Cocaine Mitch” and called Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao‘s father a “wealthy Chinaperson” — is seeking over $12 billion in damages in the lawsuit filed in Mingo County, West Virginia Circuit Court.
“Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and the other defendants in this case, when they represent themselves as a news outlet or news source, the public’s reasonable expectation is that they are indeed a ‘credible’ news outlet,” Blankenship’s attorney Eric Early, a failed GOP candidate for California attorney general, said in a statement to Mediaite. “It’s beyond wrong when they lie about facts that are easily ‘google-ible.’ These news outlets are going to have to decide at some point whether they are actual news or entertainment channels.”
For “injuries Mr. Blankenship has suffered,” he is seeking “damages in an amount not less than $2 billion dollars,” the suit notes, before adding that he also “seeks substantial punitive damages in the amount of 10 billion dollars.”
“Some of the defendants in this case are massive media companies… and a large punitive damage award is necessary to adequately punish and/or deter these Defendants from repeating this conduct,” the document states.
The lengthy list of outlets targeted by Blankenship is nonpartisan. CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post are all listed alongside Breitbart News, the Washington Times, and the Washington Examiner‘s parent company Clarity Media.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, MSNBC host Chris Hayes, Fox News host Neil Cavuto, MSNBC host Joy Reid, and Washington Post White House reporter Josh Dawsey are among the media figures named in the lawsuit.
The case’s defendants are not limited to the mainstream media, as pundits from far-right news sites the Daily Caller and Breitbart News are also named. Additionally, GOP operatives, like former Bush adviser Bradley Blakeman and the NRSC’s executive director KevinMcLaughlin, were listed for their purported false “felon” accusations.
Mediaite contacted the aforementioned outlets and pundits for comment on the lawsuit but did not receive a response in time for publication, except for NBC who declined to respond.