The New York Post has settled a lawsuit about a front page that the paper ran shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing on which it highlighted two “Bag Men” it claimed were being sought authorities.
The April 18, 2013, cover of the Post featured a photo of two men near the site of the Boston Marathon bombing, with the headline, “Bag Men: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon.” The story inside claimed that investigators were circulating the photos in order to identify the individuals. Soon after the Post ran its cover, it quickly became clear that the men on the cover were not suspects in the attacks.
The Associated Press reports today that the Post (which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.) has settled the defamation lawsuit brought against it by Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi, the men in the picture. According to AP, “Neither side would disclose terms of the settlement.”
Post editor Col Allan defended the decision to run the cover at the time, claiming the paper had never identified them as suspects in the bombing and that they “stand by our story.” In an email to Media Matters, Allan said, “We made no judgment about the men. We simply reported the facts.”
The AP reports that lawyers for Barhoum and Zaimi submitted into evidence an email apparently from the Department of Homeland Security that the men in the picture were “not of interest” and that a request for their identification was based on “bogus intel.”
Eventually Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were identified by the FBI as the suspected bombers. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently awaiting trial.
The Post was widely criticized for their rush to judgment and erroneous reporting on the Marathon bombing, which also included a false report that 12 people had died in the attack (the real death toll was 5) and that a Saudi national student had been “taken into custody” and was considered a “suspect.”
Glenn Beck is also currently the subject of a defamation lawsuit for his false claim that Abdulrahman Alharbi, a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, was the “money man” behind the attack. Beck's lawyer's claim that the suit is infringing on his First Amendment rights, and that Alharbi is an “involuntary” public figure, subject to a higher standard for defamation than a private citizen.