Mark Steyn Testifies

Almost nine years ago, climate activist Michael Mann sued Mark Steyn, National Review and others for defamation, based on a post that Mark did at The Corner. The post, which largely quoted someone else, essentially called Mann’s infamous hockey stick a fraud. That characterization was true, or at the least was a well-supported opinion. Yet years of inexcusable judicial delays and fruitless procedural maneuvering have gone by.

Finally, there has been a substantive ruling in the case: National Review has been dismissed, on the ground that Steyn was not NR’s employee and they therefore were not responsible for any alleged defamation on his part. Mark has been unhappy with NR for a long time; he sees the case as a free speech battle and has wanted to get on to the merits, while NR has taken a different approach. Mark wrote about the status of the case and NR’s dismissal here. Quotable quote:

National Review won on the narrow ground that I wasn’t an “employee” of the magazine and therefore that they’re not responsible for whatever defamations I publish under their shingle. I had no idea this was a thing in American law, and, if it is, I don’t know why they couldn’t have advanced it, say, seven years ago and saved us all a lot of time.

After eight years, the case finally moved into discovery mode. Mann’s lawyer took Mark’s deposition last October, and Mark posted it here, where I saw it for the first time last night. Having taken or defended thousands of depositions in my legal career, I was curious to see how good Mann’s lawyer is and how Steyn would perform as a witness.

Mark was his usual irrepressible self. For example:

BY MR. WILLIAMS: Q. YOU ALSO DO SOME PROMOTIONS FOR THE NATIONAL REVIEW. DO YOU NOT?

A. OH, YES.

MR. WILSON [Mark Steyn’s lawyer]: OBJECTION, VAGUE.

THE WITNESS: IT’S NOT IN THE LEAST BIT VAGUE. I DON’T OBJECT TO IT.

THAT’S PARTLY WHAT I MEAN BY OVER-PERFORMING THE CONTRACT. I GAVE VERY GENEROUSLY — I MADE A LOT OF MONEY FOR NATIONAL REVIEW. AS THEY TESTIFIED, I THINK, IN SOME OF THE E-MAILS THEY’VE PRODUCED. YOU KNOW, I VASTLY INCREASED THE NUMBER OF EYEBALLS THAT CAME TO THAT WEBSITE PARTICULARLY ON WEEKENDS WHEN MY SATURDAY COLUMN, I THINK IT WAS, WOULD BE POSTED. I SOLD CRUISE TICKETS FOR THEM. A LOT OF CRUISE TICKETS.

In response to Mann’s lawyer’s questions, Mark ably explained his reasons for considering the now-discredited hockey stick to be fraudulent. Imagine my surprise when my own name suddenly turned up:

Q. AND YOU SAY, “I’M MONICA AND DR. MANN IS CLINTON. HE NEVER RECIPROCATES.” CAN YOU TELL ME WHY WE HAVE ANOTHER SEXUAL REFERENCE THERE?

A. WELL, WE HAVE ANOTHER SEXUAL REFERENCE, SIR, BECAUSE THAT SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY STUFF THAT MANN AND HIS ACOLYTES UNDERSTAND.
I’M — I WOULDN’T SAY I WORK BLUE. I WOULD SAY THESE ARE IN THE NATURE OF ENGLISH WEST END TROUSER-DROPPING FARCE TYPE SEXUAL REFERENCES. IF YOU’RE EXCITED ENOUGH FOR THE REAL DEAL, YOU SHOULD GO TO MANN’S FRIEND BARRY BICKMORE WHO HAS DONE LURID POSTS ABOUT ME, ABOUT ME BEING A STRIPPER WHO WANTS TO BE A BALLERINA BUT CAN’T PREVENT HERSELF FROM BUMPING AND GRINDING HER WAY THROUGH SWAN LAKE.

IF YOU WANT THE HARDCORE SEXUAL REFERENCES, INDEED BEFORE MONICA, YOU CAN GO TO DAVID APPELL, DAVID APPELL, A-P-P-E-L-L. ANOTHER ASSOCIATE OF MANN’S WHO SAID THAT IN THIS BUSINESS, ACCUSED JOHN HINDERAKER, A DEFENDER OF MINE OF FELLATING THE KOCH BROTHERS — ALL THE KOCH BROTHERS, I BELIEVE. I’M NOT SURE HOW MANY OF THEM THERE ARE. I DON’T KNOW WHETHER THEY’RE AS NUMEROUS AS MARX BROTHERS BUT THAT’S A LOT OF FELLATING. AND THAT WAS DAVID APPELL’S THING.

SO JUST TO BE CLEAR HERE, SIR, AS TAMSIN EDWARDS, THE WELSH SCIENTIST I MENTIONED — THAT’S TAMSIN, T-A-M-S-I-N — ACCUSED MANN OF SAYING, WHY DO YOU MISLABEL PEOPLE? WHY DON’T YOU ENGAGE WITH THE POLICY POINTS THEY’RE MAKING? IT’S STRIKING TO ME THAT BOTH BARRY BICKMORE, DAVID APPELL, THE GUY WHO SAID I WAS FORNICATING, TO USE PRESIDENT NIXON’S WORDS — THAT I WAS FORNICATING WITH JUDITH CURRY, THEY’RE THE ONES WHO ARE WORKING BLUE AS THE COMICS SAY. AND I’M JUST DOING A COMPARATIVELY FAMILY FRIENDLY VERSION.

I have no idea who David Appell is, and if I knew of his childish reference to me, some years ago apparently, I have long forgotten it. It is a reminder, though, of how low-class so many liberals are.

With National Review out of the case, Mark Steyn may finally achieve his goal of a day in court, likely a decade after the lawsuit began, or close to it. The endless peregrination of Mann’s lawsuit through the courts should be an embarrassment to the D.C. judiciary.

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