Hollywood Reporter Sued For $5M Over "False" Sony Hack Sept 22, 2017 11:12:29 GMT -6
Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Sept 22, 2017 11:12:29 GMT -6
Hollywood Reporter Sued For $5M Over "False" Sony Hack Coverage
Hollywood is closing in on the third anniversary of the massive Sony hack, but The Hollywood Reporter and its owners has just been hit by a new $5 million defamation lawsuit over its coverage of the attack that could draw fresh blood.
“Callously indifferent to the devastation its Article would visit upon Ms. Basile, Prometheus published with negligence and with knowledge of falsity and reckless disregard for truth or falsity in order to reap the benefits of publishing a sensational story,” read the action filed this week in Illinois court by freelance accountant Nicole Basile. The article in question was written by THR staffers Gregg Kilday and Tatiana Siegel and printed in December 2014, which the suit says falsely branded Basile as one of the hackers.
Not long after the THR article was published, the FBI determined groups engaged by the North Korean government made the November 2014 attack on the studio. The suspicion was that the hack was a reaction to the fictional assassination of Kim Jong Un depicted in the then-upcoming Sony comedy The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.
“With a callous wink and nod to readers, Prometheus couched its article with the stock qualifiers, while deliberately signaling to readers that it had identified the real culprit and the culprit was Ms. Basile,” the jury seeking filing adds (read it here). The September 20 filed suit in seeks “presumed, general and special damages of $5 million dollars.” It also desires findings that the “offending Article was false and defamatory” and “that the defendant acted willfully, with actual malice or gross negligence.”
If some of this seems vaguely familiar it is because freelancer accountant Basile filed a similar$1.4 million seeking suit in federal court back in November 2015, claiming THR’s article has destroyed her “reputation, rendering her an untouchable within the industry.” On appeal, that action was dismissed in August due to lack of jurisdiction when it emerged that “one of the indirect members” of parent company Prometheus was actually a resident of the Land of Lincoln, where Basile lives too. Which is why, under Illinois’ Savings Statute, Basile can now pursue this in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
While her name did popped up in the vast correspondence and internal documents that were spewed online during the hack, Basile actually never worked at Sony or even directly for the company – which is part of her dispute with THR’s reporting. What Basile did do, among various accounting jobs over the years, was work on Sony’s 2012 pic The Amazing Spider-Man via a production company.
Still, when her name started appearing on the false emails sent out following the gutting attack, that nuance seemed to get lost, according to Basile.
As she said in her 2015 suit, Basile claims in this new action that THR “intentionally lied to readers and threw Ms. Basil under the bus, singling out only Ms. Basile as the insider hacker responsible for the Sony attack.” To the issue of the hacker swarming the media at the time with emails under alias, such as THR staffers and Moneyball author Michael Lewis, Basile herself singles out the reporting as having “negligently, recklessly, and intentionally hid these critical facts from readers, never disclosing that other alias were being used.”
Probably thinking this had all gone away in the courts and having cited Basile directly in a later article, Prometheus did not respond today to request for comment on the matter.
Though dealing with subsequent health issues and more, Basile finally was able to get a gig in 2016 that was at the level she was earning before being spotlighted in the THR article. However, clearly her quarrel with the publication hasn’t gone away.
Gregory Bedell of Chicago’s Knabe Kroning & Bedell, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs of Beverly Hills’ Rufus-Isaacs Acland & Grantham LLP and Wilmington, Delaware’s Rodney Smolla are representing Basile in the case. The latter defamation specializing duo was the plaintiffs’ lawyers in her initial case against Prometheus and THR in federal court.