These Outlets Ignored The Conspiracy Theorist Behind The New Benghazi Lawsuit
Research ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ
Several news outlets reporting on a lawsuit brought by the parents of two Benghazi victims that blames their deaths on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not mention that the lawsuit is being pushed by anti-Clinton lawyer Larry Klayman, a conspiracy theorist with a long history of suing the Clintons.
Anti-Clinton Lawyer Larry Klayman Files Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton On Behalf Of Parents Of Benghazi Victims
Parents Of Benghazi Victims File Lawsuit Against Clinton “Alleg[ing] That Clinton’s Negligence Was Directly Responsible” For Deaths In Benghazi. On August 8, the parents of Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, two victims of the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, alleging “that Clinton’s negligence was directly responsible for Smith’s and Woods’ deaths.” In addition to “wrongful death and negligence charges, they’re also going after Clinton for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” According to the complaint, the attorney for the Smiths and Woods’ is Larry Klayman. [Mediaite, 8/8/16; Freedom Watch, 8/8/16]
Klayman Is A Right-Wing Lawyer And Conspiracy Theorist With A History Of Anti-Clinton Lawsuits. Klayman, a conservative lawyer and a weekly writer for conservative website WND, has filed numerous lawsuits targeting the Clintons over the years, and who has suggested the Clintons “orchestrated the murders of several of their associates in the 1990s.” Klayman founded the conservative legal organizations Freedom Watch and Judicial Watch, and has reportedly filed at least 18 lawsuits against the Clinton administration, accusing them of various conspiracies, and has filed "hundreds of lawsuits against federal agencies, White House officials, Cabinet secretaries, judges, journalists, former colleagues, foreign governments, dictators, presidents," his own mother, and The Washington Post. [Media Matters, 3/25/15]
Some Reports Note Klayman Is Behind The Lawsuit
CBS This Morning: Clinton Campaign Noted “The Lawyer Behind This Lawsuit Has Been Unsuccessfully Attacking The Clintons For Decades.” CBS’s Nancy Cordes reported on the lawsuit, noting that “The Clinton campaign says the lawyer behind this lawsuit has been unsuccessfully attacking the Clintons for decades.” Cordes added that the campaign reiterated that there have already been “nine different investigations into [the Benghazi] attack and none found any evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton.” From the August 9 edition of CBS This Morning:
NANCY CORDES: The Clinton campaign says the lawyer behind this lawsuit has been unsuccessfully attacking the Clintons for decades adding, quote, that "there have been nine different investigations into this attack and none found any evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton." [CBS, CBS This Morning, 8/9/16]
CNN’s Early Start: “The Suit [Was] Filed By An Activist With The Conservative Group Judicial Watch.” CNN’s Early Start host Alison Kosik highlighted that the lawsuit was “filed by an activist with the conservative group Judicial Watch.” From the August 9 edition of CNN’s Early Start:
ALISON KOSIK: The parents of two Americans killed in the Benghazi attacks have filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton. Patricia Smith and Charles Woods are seeking damages for wrongful death, defamation, and emotional distress. The suit, filed by an activist with the conservative group Judicial Watch. A Clinton campaign spokesman responding, saying multiple investigations of the secretary of state’s handling of the Benghazi incident have found no wrongdoing. [CNN, Early Start, 8/9/16]
CNN.com: “The Lawsuit Was Filed By Larry Klayman Of Judicial Watch, A Conservative Oranization That’s Been Critical Of Clinton.” CNN.com reported that the lawsuit originated from “Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch, a conservative organization that's been critical of Clinton and sought her emails from her private server during her tenure as secretary of state.” From CNN.com’s August 8 article:
The lawsuit was filed by Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch, a conservative organization that's been critical of Clinton and sought her emails from her private server during her tenure as secretary of state.
Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said the former secretary of state's handling of the Benghazi incident has been investigated multiple times -- including by a select House committee -- and none found wrongdoing. [CNN.com, 8/8/16]
NBCNews.com: The Plaintiffs “Are Represented By … Larry Klayman, A Frequent Critic Of The Clintons.” NBCNews.com’s article on the lawsuit mentioned Klayman’s involvement in the lawsuit, calling him “a frequent critic of the Clintons,” and reported the statement by a Clinton campaign official that Klayman “is the founder or (sic) ‘Freedom Watch,’ a conservative group that ‘has been unsuccessfully attacking the Clintons for decades.’” From NBCNews.com’s August 9 article:
The parents were represented by Washington, D.C., lawyer Larry Klayman, a frequent critic of the Clintons.
In response to the suit, Nick Merrill, a Clinton campaign spokesman, said "While no one can imagine the pain of the families of the brave Americans we lost at Benghazi, there have been nine different investigations into this attack and none found any evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton."
And one campaign official noted that Klayman is the founder or "Freedom Watch," a conservative group that "has been unsuccessfully attacking the Clintons for decades." [NBCNews.com, 8/9/16]
Chicago Tribune: Smith And Woods Are Represented By “Attorney Larry Klayman, Founder Of The Conservative Group Freedom Watch.” According to the Chicago Tribune, Patricia Smith “referred a call from a San Diego Union-Tribune reporter to her attorney Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch, who said that while his clients are seeking unspecified monetary damages through their lawsuit, their main goal is justice.” From the Chicago Tribune’s August 9 article:
On Monday, Smith referred a call from a San Diego Union-Tribune reporter to her attorney Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch, who said that while his clients are seeking unspecified monetary damages through their lawsuit, their main goal is justice.
“While (Clinton) may think she’s above the law, the lawsuit will ensure she is not,” Klayman said in a phone interview.
“The damage has been severe, but more important than that, someone needs to put their foot down with regard to the criminal conduct of Hillary Clinton, and my clients are willing to do that,” he said. [Chicago Tribune, 8/9/16]
NY Times, WSJ, As Well As ABC, CNN, And NBC Morning News Shows, Failed To Mention Klayman’s Involvement
Morning Shows On ABC, CNN, and NBC, As Well As The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal All Failed To Mention Klayman’s Involvement While Reporting On The Lawsuit. Morning news programs including ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN’s New Day, and NBC’s Today, as well as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, reported on the lawsuit, but did not explain that the lawsuit originates from the conservative activist group Freedom Watch and that the parents are being represented by Klayman. The Times failed to mention Klayman’s involvement in the lawsuit in their original report, but NYT.com published an AP timeline a day after the original article was printed describing Klayman as “a longtime Clinton critic.” [ABC, Good Morning America, 8/9/16; CNN, New Day, 8/9/16; NBC, Today, 8/9/16; The New York Times, 8/8/16, 8/9/16]
Larry Klayman Is A Well-Known Conspiracy Theorist “Who Takes Advantage Of The Courts To Harass His Political Opponents”
Slate’s Jacob Weisberg: Klayman Is “A Nutter With A Law Degree Who Takes Advantage Of The Courts To Harass His Political Opponents.” In 1998, editor-in-chief of The Slate Group Jacob Weisberg wrote that Klayman, “a one-man litigation explosion,” “is one of the fringe characters who has sprouted in the moist ground of the Clinton scandals as mushrooms do after a spring rain.” Weisberg continued that Klayman “isn't just a nutter who gets right-wing foundation money and gets on television. He's a nutter with a law degree who takes advantage of the courts to harass his political opponents.” Weisberg noted that Klayman “has proved remarkably effective at abusing the people most right-wingers dislike,” including with “a $90 million invasion of privacy suit filed against Hillary Clinton.” From Slate’s June 6, 1998 article:
In other words, Klayman is one of the fringe characters who has sprouted in the moist ground of the Clinton scandals as mushrooms do after a spring rain. But Klayman is not treated like a fringe figure. He has, by and large, achieved the mainstream credibility he craves. He is a frequent guest on such TV programs as Crossfire, Rivera Live, MSNBC's Internight, and The Charles Grodin Show (with whose twitchy host he seems to have a special affinity). Klayman is financially supported, praised, and frequently cited by the wider conservative movement. But he isn't just a nutter who gets right-wing foundation money and gets on television. He's a nutter with a law degree who takes advantage of the courts to harass his political opponents. How does he get away with it?
You might think mainstream conservatives would be wary of Klayman's tactics. Tort reform was part of the Contract With America, and he is a one-man litigation explosion. But so far, conservatives have been silent, perhaps because Klayman has proved remarkably effective at abusing the people most right-wingers dislike. His primary vehicle is a $90 million invasion of privacy suit filed against Hillary Clinton and others on behalf of the "victims" of Filegate. Never mind that congressional investigators and Ken Starr have decided that the gathering of FBI files on previous administration officials with names starting with letters A through G was not part of a grand plot to harass political opponents. Klayman has found an opening to harass his political opponents, inflicting costly all-day depositions on Harold Ickes, Stephanopoulos, James Carville, Paul Begala, and many others. [Slate, 6/6/98]
Klayman: President Obama Is A “Traitor” Who “Would Have Been Impeached” If “He Had Been Anything Other Than African-American.” Klayman claimed on Newsmax TV’s The Steve Malzberg Show, that Obama sent money to Iran, which the U.S. has owed for decades, because he “feels some affinity for Iran” and is “half-Muslim.” , Klayman also called the president a “traitor” because “he’s undercut the United States” by criticizing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and concluded that if Obama “had been anything other than African-American … he would have been impeached and convicted by now.” [Right Wing Watch, 8/8/16]
Right Wing Watch: Klayman Is Suing President Obama “For Endangering His Life As A White Man.” According to Right Wing Watch, Klayman filed a lawsuit “against President Obama, Black Lives Matter, Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton ‘for endangering not just my life, as a white law enforcement person of Jewish origin, but also for all Americans, white, black, yellow or brown, no matter what their race or religion.’” [Right Wing Watch, 7/12/16]
Wash. Post Magazine: “The Edge And Tone Of Partisan Investigations -- Where The Stakes Are Portrayed As Maximal, The Opponents Diabolic, The Conspiracies Rampant -- Can Be Traced To” Klayman. The Washington Post Magazine wrote that Klayman’s “won-lost record in public interest cases is incalculably terrible,” but that for him “Victory lies not in the verdict, but in what is learned on the way to the verdict.” The Post explained that Klayman “invented a new style of Washington warfare” by “harness[ing] the devastating synergy of the document request, the lawsuit, the deposition and the cable news performance.” From The Washington Post Magazine’s May 9, 2014 article:
Those Klayman-fired imbroglios of yesteryear have faded with time — remember “Chinagate” and “Filegate”? — but his legacy is indelible. He invented a new style of Washington warfare. His innovation was to harness the devastating synergy of the document request, the lawsuit, the deposition and the cable news performance. He was like a mixed martial artist barging into a touch football game.
Now, thanks to Klayman, everyone’s got an axe kick and a triangle choke. The edge and tone of partisan investigations — where the stakes are portrayed as maximal, the opponents diabolic, the conspiracies rampant — can be traced to him. Rarely raising his voice, Klayman spoke the stone extremist poetry of bloggers before there were blogs, and his attitude prefigured the tea party long before the kettle whistled.
“Every time he turns up another rock, he finds something,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said of Klayman during the Clinton cases.
The catch is, what Klayman found under the rocks usually didn’t win lawsuits. His won-lost record in public interest cases is incalculably terrible — and mostly irrelevant, for what Klayman is up to. Victory lies not in the verdict, but in what is learned on the way to the verdict.
So what if his interminable “Filegate” case never did prove Clinton officials misused FBI files for political reasons? Along the way, he got Lamberth to rule that the president himself violated the Privacy Act in releasing Kathleen Willey’s letters. Klayman thus became one of few advocates ever to win a criminal ruling against a president — though an appeals court blunted Lamberth’s opinion and the issue was dropped. [The Washington Post Magazine, 5/9/14]
The Week: Klayman “Implied The Clintons Orchestrated The Murders Of Several Of Their Associates In The 1990’s.” According to The Week’s Jon Terbush, Klayman, who “has a penchant for peddling conspiracy theories,” once “implied the Clintons orchestrated the murders of several of their associates in the 1990s, a prime reason he has argued Hillary is unfit to be president.” From The Week’s December 17, 2013 article:
The author of two books — including WHORES: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment — Klayman also has a penchant for peddling conspiracy theories. Most shockingly — and baselessly — he's implied the Clintons orchestrated the murders of several of their associates in the 1990s, a prime reason he has argued Hillary is unfit to be president. [The Week, 12/17/13]
The Washington Post: Klayman Claimed That “The Ebola Virus Is Secretly A Biological Weapon Allowed Into The Country By The Obama Administration.” The Washington Post reported that Klayman filed a complaint alleging that “[t]he Ebola virus is secretly a biological weapon allowed into the country by the Obama administration to further terrorist interests against Americans of the ‘Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion.’” The Post characterized the complaint as “ steeped in several long-stewing conspiracy theories about the current executive branch,” adding, “That's not surprising, given its author: Klayman is a well-known legal activist who believes that Obama was not born in the United States.” From The Washington Post’s October 14, 2014 article:
The Ebola virus is secretly a biological weapon allowed into the country by the Obama administration to further terrorist interests against Americans of the "Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion" according to a new lawsuit filed Tuesday against several members of the administration.
The complaint by Larry Klayman reads like a 27-page amplification of many of the fears swirling around the two cases of the Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States in recent weeks. In this instance, that fear is steeped in several long-stewing conspiracy theories about the current executive branch.
That's not surprising, given its author: Klayman is a well-known legal activist who believes that Obama was not born in the United States. He's filed "hundreds" of lawsuits against everything from the Obama administration to Judicial Watch, an organization he founded. Sometimes, those suits are at least moderately successful in court: His case challenging a portion of the NSA's surveillance practices is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after a federal judge issued a blistering decision in his favor. [The Washington Post, 10/14/14]
- Posted In
- Elections, Justice & Civil Liberties
- CBS, CNN, NBCNews, Chicago Tribune, ABC, NBC
- Larry Klayman, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Cordes, Alison Kosik, Jacob Weisberg
- Mediaite.com, CBS This Morning, Early Start, CNN.com, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Good Morning America, NBC Today, Slate, New Day, Right Wing Watch, The Washington Post, The Week
- Benghazi, 2016 Elections