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Malone, an outspoken critic of COVID-19 vaccines and countermeasures, on Aug. 19 filed a lawsuit against the newspaper, owned by Jeff Bezos, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
Malone’s defamation claims arise from a Jan. 24 article by The Washington Post — “A vaccine scientist’s discredited claims have bolstered a movement of misinformation.”
The article, published one day after the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington, D.C., draws on Malone’s speech at the event.
Malone is demanding a jury trial.
In an exclusive interview with The Defender, Malone discussed the lawsuit, claims made about him by the mass media and also the establishment’s efforts to stifle so-called “conspiracy theories” and “misinformation.”
Post took remarks from Malone’s ‘Defeat the Mandates’ speech ‘out of context’
Malone’s lawsuit describes him as “an internationally recognized scientist/physician and the original inventor of mRNA vaccination as a technology, DNA vaccination, and multiple non-viral DNA and RNA/mRNA platform delivery technologies.”
According to the complaint, he is “the leading contributor to the [mRNA] science exploited by Pfizer and other pharmaceutical corporations to create the alleged ‘vaccines’ for the novel coronavirus.”
The lawsuit alleges, “WaPo falsely accused Dr. Malone of fraud, disinformation, dishonesty, deception, lying to the American public, lack of integrity, immorality and ethical improprieties.”
“The gist of the article is that Dr. Malone is unfit to be a medical doctor and scientist [and] exposed Dr. Malone to public ridicule, scorn, and contempt, and severely prejudiced Dr. Malone in his employment,” the lawsuit states.
Malone told The Defender that while multiple mainstream media outlets have made defamatory statements against him, those published by The Washington Post were particularly egregious, resulting in the lawsuit.
“What we have done together with my attorney is, we went through and identified the most high-profile, egregious defamatory statements in the major press outlets,” said Malone, listing stories published by The New York Times, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and The Scientist, in addition to The Washington Post.
Malone sent cease-and-desist letters to the publications, which he said “were representational” of the defamatory claims made against him in the mainstream media.
According to Malone, all five outlets “denied that there was any merit to our defamation and cease-and-desist request, denied “any claims or liability” for anything they published about him and declined to take any action, such as retracting the articles in question or publishing corrections.
Out of these though, the story published by The Washington Post was the most extreme example of defamation, Malone said.
Malone told The Defender:
“In the case of The Washington Post, they had made these statements regarding what I had said on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and then also the usual ‘spreader of misinformation’ [claim].
“They directly used terms like ‘lying’ [and] statements about misinformation. That just made it so that particular case was the most clear and the most compelling. And that’s why we decided to go with that one as the initial case.”
“They never used the term ‘disinformation.’ It’s always ‘misinformation.’ They rarely, if ever, identify what that ‘misinformation’ constitutes … they just throw it out as a characterization.”
According to Malone, The Washington Post took his remarks “out of context” and then “refuted” them “with information that the CDC had recently published on their MMWR [Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report] page, which is not peer-reviewed.”
The newspaper twisted his remarks that “the vaccines are not working,” he said:
“What I clearly, unequivocally said is the vaccines are not working with Omicron. They are not preventing infection, replication and spread of this virus. I said nothing about death and disease, because I knew that was still controversial.
“What The Washington Post did was call me a liar, because the CDC had published just recently … that the vaccines were still effective at reducing death and disease from the virus.”
According to Malone, “There are many videos of the speech, so this can all be played out in court. The speech was very consciously written, knowing that I was likely to be attacked by ‘fact-checkers’ and others,” he said.
The lawsuit states that on June 7, Malone served The Washington Post “with written notice advising WaPo that the Statements in the Article were false and defamatory and demanding that the Statements be retracted and/or corrected and removed from the Internet,” which the newspaper refused to do.
Instead, according to the complaint, The Washington Post “chose to increase Dr. Malone’s damages by republishing the Article,” an action Malone, in his interview with The Defender, characterized as “adding even more fuel to the fire.”
The lawsuit quotes verbatim several specific instances of alleged defamation in The Washington Post article, including:
- Malone’s claims have been “discredited” and his views constitute “misinformation.”
- “Robert Malone stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before thousands of anti-vaccine and anti-mandate demonstrators [and] repeated the falsehoods that have garnered him legions of followers.”
- “‘Regarding the genetic COVID vaccines, the science is settled,’ [Malone] said in a 15-minute speech … ‘They are not working.’ The misinformation came two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its first studies.”
- Malone’s “claims and suggestions have been discredited … as not only wrong, but also dangerous.”
- “There is a huge market for misinformation … The way he’s framed in the conspiracy-theory world is that he’s a courageous whistleblower rather than someone who is spreading misinformation — and it’s only enhancing his profile.”
- “While Malone is a brilliant scientist who has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge about vaccines, there is reason to be concerned about how his newfound stardom could be a public health risk.”
- “There’s a risk we’re all facing when he’s not accurately representing the information.”
- “On [the Joe Rogan Experience], he promoted an unfounded theory called ‘mass-formation psychosis,’ telling Rogan that a ‘third of the population [is] basically being hypnotized’ into believing what the mainstream media and Anthony S. Fauci report on the vaccine.”
- “Malone has weaponized bad research.”
- “With his increased profile in recent weeks, some are calling on him to take a step back and reflect on the damage his misinformation is causing.”
Based on these statements, the lawsuit argues that “the qualities WaPo disparaged — Dr. Malone’s honesty, veracity, integrity, competence, judgment, morals and ethics as a licensed medical doctor and scientist — are peculiarly valuable to Dr. Malone and are absolutely necessary in the practice and profession of any medical doctor and scientist.”
The lawsuit alleges The Washington Post “ascribes to Dr. Malone conduct, characteristics and conditions, including fraud, disinformation, misinformation, deception and dishonesty, that would adversely affect his fitness to be a medical professional and to conduct the business of a medical doctor.”
In doing so, the lawsuit reads, “WaPo was well-aware of Dr. Malone’s expertise and experience … intentionally ignored Dr. Malone’s credentials and stature, and chose to impugn his standing in the medical and scientific communities.”
Malone said The Washington Post’s intentions were evident to him from the first time they reached out to him, prior to publishing the article. Referring to Timothy Bella, who authored the piece, Malone told The Defender:
“[There was] something about the way this guy was approaching it and the fact that it was The Washington Post. I knew [it] was absolutely not going to be a friendly story.
“And so I said ‘no.’ I was very careful not to say ‘no’ in any way that would prejudice him. But I just said it wasn’t going to be possible.”
Malone referred to a prior experience being contacted by a reporter for The Atlantic before they ran a story about him, an experience that showed him how journalists from such media outlets often attempt to mislead individuals like him when first approaching them for an interview.
According to Malone:
“What they do is, they say. ‘I just want to be your friend and put out your story.’ They may say something to the effect that they acknowledge that I’ve been maligned in prior stories, and then they gain your confidence.
“It’s really a confidence game. We use the term ‘con artists’ … and many of these journalists, in my opinion, that seek to gain one’s confidence in this way really are con artists. That’s how they play it.”
According to Malone, Bella reached out to a colleague of his, who Malone infers is the same individual “that had made a negative comment in the Atlantic piece anonymously.”
The lawsuit addresses this, stating:
“WaPo blindly relied upon and republished statements of ‘sources’ that WaPo knew were unreliable, including sources known to be wildly biased and to have an ax to grind against Dr. Malone and who were intent on ruining his reputation.”
The lawsuit also describes how the newspaper’s president, Stephen Hills, “got in on the calumny” by tweeting, in reference to Malone, that “a vaccine scientist’s discredited claims have bolstered a movement of misinformation.”
You really can’t make this stuff up. Idiocoracy is here. A vaccine scientist’s discredited claims have bolstered a movement of misinformation https://t.co/ANBxv19ZWB
— Stephen Hills (@sphills) January 25, 2022
The lawsuit alleges:
“Readers of the Article and followers of WaPo on Twitter immediately understood the [article’s] statements to convey the intended and endorsed defamatory gist and meaning: that Dr. Malone is a disreputable medical professional, that he should lose his license, that he is dishonest and dangerous, that he spreads lies and misinformation, and that he engages in fraud and disinformation.”
Such claims, “including [the article’s] direct and powerful accusations of ‘fraud’ and medical disinformation,” are considered “fighting words,” which are actionable under Virginia law, the suit argues.
The scope of potential damage to Malone’s reputation is also estimated in the lawsuit, which states that “in addition to publishing the Article in print and on its website, WaPo and its agents conspicuously published the Article to a third target audience — 19,703,612+ Twitter followers.”
In addition, the lawsuit states, “The Article was republished millions of times in Virginia [the state where the suit was filed], including by WaPo and its agents and followers, by Politico and its agents and by many others, most notably Democratic Party operatives.”
WaPo coordinated false narrative with Biden administration, lawsuit alleges
Claims of political motivation on the part of The Washington Post figure prominently in the lawsuit, which alleges:
“WaPo manufactured the story line and coordinated the false narrative with the Biden Administration and its agents and operatives with the specific purpose to target Dr. Malone.
“WaPo did not seek the truth or report it. Rather, WaPo betrayed the truth for the sake of its institutional bias and desire to support the political operations and machinations of the Biden Administration.”
In his interview, Malone highlighted the significance of this particular aspect of the lawsuit. He said:
“If this [lawsuit] is allowed to proceed … what we’re likely to see come out of discovery is further granularity about the interaction between The Washington Post and, by extension, a number of other corporate media outlets that are very aligned with the current administration and [its] political interests.
“If one can establish that these corporate media outlets were operating with directions and, in some cases, capitalization by the federal government, then we meet the criteria for those organizations acting as a surrogate for the federal government and … suppressing free speech on behalf of the government.”
This would carry constitutional implications, according to Malone:
“The federal government … cannot circumvent freedom of speech, First Amendment restrictions, by employing surrogates such as [the] corporate press or Big Tech.
“What we observe is the remarkable alignment over time between the positions taken particularly by the Biden administration, but also going back to the Trump administration.
“So it transcends left and right. This is not a left versus right issue. This is an administrative state issue.”
It’s also a part of a broader pattern, according to the lawsuit, which refers to “the sheer number and nature of the hit pieces published by WaPo since 2020.”
According to the complaint, “WaPo and its agents harbor an institutional hostility, hatred, extreme bias, spite and ill-will towards Dr. Malone and other medical professionals … who speak the inconvenient truth about COVID-19 and the so-called ‘vaccines.’”
Doubling down on its claims, The Washington Post reprinted aspects of the story on several occasions, according to the lawsuit, including on July 30, in an article that “falsely repeated that Dr. Malone ‘spread discredited information about coronavirus vaccines.’”
According to Malone, such republication — especially once a cease-and-desist letter has been served to the publication — “constitutes clear evidence of malice.”
Lawsuit: WaPo ‘acted with actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth’
Malone’s lawsuit seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, recovery of legal costs, and prejudgment and postjudgment interest of 6% per annum beginning on Jan. 24, the date the article was published.
In seeking these damages, the lawsuit alleges The Washington Post “published the Statements with actual or constructive knowledge that they were false or with reckless disregard for whether they were false,” adding the newspaper “acted with actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth.”
The lawsuit further claims Malone suffered “injury to reputation (past and future), insult, pain and mental suffering (past and future),” in addition to “special damages, including lost income, career damage and impairment of future earnings capacity.”
Career damage includes “los[t] business and income, lost public appearances due to perceived reputational risk … and impact upon [Malone’s] prospects for career advancement.”
Malone told The Defender that The Washington Post article “is often cited by physicians when presented with data from their patients about the risks of the [COVID] vaccine, and comments where patients are asking their physicians to just listen to what Dr. Malone has been saying.”
“What they get back,” according to Malone, are claims that “Dr. Malone spreads misinformation, according to The Washington Post.”
As a result, Malone said, “The Washington Post article succeeded … in its intention, which was to delegitimize [me], at least for those that are wrapped up in this kind of groupthink world … to not have to account for the information that I have been sharing over the last year and a half.”
The lawsuit also cited defamatory postings made by Twitter users in response to The Washington Post article, claiming among other things that “Malone is an anti-vaxx disinfo diva” and calling for medical professionals like Malone to “start losing licenses.”
According to the lawsuit, “Read as a whole, the Statements represent an egregious attack on Dr. Malone’s character, experience, standing in the medical community, and the truth.
The lawsuit argues that “Dr. Malone’s mission is to ensure vaccine safety [and] his goal is to save lives,” and that he “discovered short-cuts, database issues, obfuscation and, frankly, lies told in the development of” the COVID-19 vaccines.
Malone said if he prevails, society stands to benefit more than he will personally:
“Am I ever going to have my reputation corrected by prevailing in a lawsuit against The Washington Post? It would be minor. I think the proper term is ‘Pyrrhic victory.’
“But in terms of the broader implications for our government and the American experiment, establishing that it’s not acceptable for the government to employ its intelligence agencies or surrogates in the media to suppress information … would be a huge step forward for the right of free speech for individuals and super important as we move into this new media environment where things are not centralized … and where alternative voices are going to become among the most important information streams.”
Corporate media ‘alarmed’ by loss of control over messaging
In his interview, Malone remarked on recent efforts by the United Nations and the World Economic Forum (WEF), and also social media platforms, to further restrict and police “conspiracy theories” and alleged “misinformation,” predicting that alternative voices will find themselves in a stronger position of prominence “in the next couple of years.”
He told The Defender:
“We are now moving into a time where there is a great hunger for accountability.
“I think the big underlying message here, as we look forward over the next two years, is going to be the slow erosion of the power of corporate, centralized corporate media and the emergence of a much more balkanized media landscape in which users select the information streams that they wish to subscribe to.
“It will be increasingly difficult to control the narrative in the way that it’s been done in the past because of this balkanization.”
Major institutions and media outlets are increasingly alarmed by this, according to Malone:
“I think that what we are now seeing [on the part of major media outlets and institutions] is a reaction to loss of message control.
“Damage to the WEF is damage to [French President] Emmanuel Macron, damage to [Canadian Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and the prime minister of New Zealand and the leadership in Australia. So all of that has to be controlled and they have to recapture control of the storyline.
“You’re seeing a more global effort to recapture control of the messaging and the storyline by these global players that have been partially damaged.”
Malone highlighted the role of major investment funds like Vanguard, BlackRock and State Street, which due to their significant ownership stakes in multiple companies across many industries — ranging from the media to banks to pharmaceuticals — leads to a situation where they “all function as one company” due to their “common ownership.”
Citing an example of such attempted control of the narrative, Malone argued that Google’s search algorithms have recently altered the results of searches containing the term “mass formation psychosis,” which he famously expressed during his interview with Rogan.
Malone said the Rogan interview is itself now “very hard to find, even though it’s probably got well over 100 million views … you can’t find it on Google.”
He described such actions as “a concerted effort to deny the validity” of the “mass formation psychosis” hypothesis, and of himself and other scholars who have promoted it, including researcher Mattias Desmet.
Malone cited recent attacks against professor of health policy Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN analyst who, ironically, is also a frequent Washington Post contributor.
Fauci resigning early to avoid ‘witch hunt’?
Malone also addressed Fauci’s announcement Monday that he will step down from his position in December, rather than at the end of the Biden administration, as he had previously claimed.
Malone suggested that with the high likelihood that the House of Representatives, in particular, may flip to Republican control following the midterm elections, there is a strong chance there will be “significant investigations in the House come January.”
According to Malone, “The common explanation is that Fauci got out of the job now so that he could avoid being called to testify by the new Congress in January.”
But Malone dismissed these claims. “He’s going to be called no matter what,” he said.
Instead, by announcing a December departure, Fauci seeks to achieve two benefits, according to Malone. One possible benefit is that his departure will help the Democrats, because “the polling [likely] shows that Tony Fauci is a major problem for the Democratic Party heading into the midterms.”
The other potential benefit, Malone said, is that “it will give him the opportunity to select his successor and get that successor confirmed prior to the new House and Senate being convened.”
A departure at that point could allow Fauci to entirely avoid providing Congressional testimony, according to Malone.
“I suspect he steps up,” Malone said, “The pathway is the World Health Organization, a senior position at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or CEPI [the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations].” “These are the pathways” followed by former public health officials from the U.S. and other countries, he said.
What this would mean, Malone told The Defender, is that Fauci “might well resist U.S. Congressional subpoenas for his testimony on the grounds that he’s doing very important work on the world stage now and that he has no time to waste on Republican ‘witch hunts,’ or some sort of messaging like that.”