Earlier this year, the writer James King wrote a story for Gawker titled “My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online,” in which he recounted his experience writing for the website of the Daily Mail and argued that the site routinely failed to observe basic standards of attribution, copyright, and journalistic accuracy. The Daily Mail has responded to King’s article by suing the author and Gawker Media for defamation. Attorneys for the Manhattan law firm Nesenoff & Miltenberg, which is representing the paper, filed a 33-page lawsuit—available here—against both parties in New York Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon.
The Daily Mail has in the past disputed specific details in King’s piece story (details that King stands by). Its lawsuit, however, glosses over most of those disputed allegations, and instead claims that King’s general argument—that the Daily Mail encouraged writers to engage in deceptive and unethical practices—is simply false. As the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple points out, however, the Mail’s argument may be difficult to substantiate in court:
Whatever the merits of King’s story, it didn’t exactly upend conventional wisdom about the Mail Online. Take, for instance, this June 2014 Guardian piece titled, “Mail Online ducks questions from News Corp over its lifting of copy.” Or this Poynter story from March 2012, titled, “Editor of Daily Mail’s website defends attribution practices in face of growing criticism.” Or this Poynter story, also from March 2012: “Daily Mail grabs story from Newsweek/Daily Beast.” Or this Poynter story from February 2014: “Daily Mail rips off Yahoo News story, then updates with ‘credit.‘” Or this March 2013 New York Times story, which carries a quote from a spokesman from the New York Daily News: “[T]here’s been an ongoing pattern where they didn’t credit stories.”
In response to the Daily Mail’s legal action, Gawker Media issued the following statement:
While we’re not surprised that the Daily Mail doesn’t like what James King had to say about his time working there, this baseless complaint doesn’t even attempt to refute the vast majority of the author’s detailed anecdotes about his experience as a Daily Mail writer.
Both King and the Daily Mail declined further comment.