On Wednesday, veteran TV journalist John Stossel sued Facebook for defamation, for slapping his 2020 post about forest fires and their cause with a fact-check label.
According to the complaint, filed in a federal court in California, Stossel posted a video on Facebook, captioned “Government Fueled Fires.” In the video, he criticized the “sensational media reporting about a so-called ‘climate apocalypse,’ and explored a scientific hypothesis… that while climate change undoubtedly contributes to forest fires, it was not the primary cause of the 2020 California fires.”
We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.
Stossel argued that poor forest management also caused forest fires.
However, as soon as the video was live, Facebook flagged it as misleading. The label stated: “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.”
It added: “Claim – ‘forest fires are caused by poor management. Not by climate change.’ Verdict: misleading.”
Stossel’s complaint argues that he did not specifically claim that climate change did not cause forest fires. He is seeking defamation damages because the fact-check had a negative impact on his viewership and it significantly harmed his reputation.
“We believe this case is without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously against the allegations,” a Facebook spokesperson said.