The First Amendment should still mean something to our news organizations.
Originally published by WND News Service. Used with permission.
OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
By Bob Unruh
The January 6, 2021, events at the U.S. Capital did actually involve rioters.
There were those who broke windows and doors and vandalized.
But there were a lot of people who simply walked into the building, through doors sometimes held open by security officers. Some officers even escorted the “rioters” around the building. Other visitors were allowed in to use a restroom.
Those all appear to be facing charges.
One of those is Jacob Hiles, a charter boat captain from Virginia Beach, who traveled to Washington that day to “express his support for President Trump.”
He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of “parading” in the building and was given two years of probation and 60 hours of community service.
But he’s now suing CNN, alleging that the network defamed him by suggesting he wanted to have a “revolution.
He’s seeking $37 million in damages.
A report at Newsweek explained the complaint states he was in Washington to support Trump by “exercising his 1st Amendment rights guaranteed to him under the United States Constitution.”
The complaint in federal court in Virginia said the problem arose because he posted a selfie from his visit with the sarcastic comment, “Feelin cute…might start a revolution later.”
Then a Capitol police officer, Michael Angelo Riley, messaged him and suggested he delete his posts, and Riley was sentenced to probation and home detention for “obstruction.”
When CNN wrote about those cases it suggested that a man, referencing Hiles, “wanted to start ‘a revolution’ on January 6.”
That, the lawsuit charges, had CNN falsely accusing Hiles of “felonious criminal activity of which he was not charged or convicted, either directly or indirectly.”
Newsweek, which reviewed the complaint, explained, “The lawsuit alleges that the article accuses Hiles of having ‘the intention to overthrow a sitting government which is one of the gravest felonies in the United States of America even though at the time of publication he had been charged with four Class B misdemeanors and entered a guilty plea to only one nonviolent misdemeanor and resulting in the three other charges being dismissed.’”
The lawsuit charges CNN admitted Hiles was only involved in a misdemeanor case but “continued to mislead their viewers by painting a picture of a violent revolutionary intent on causing violence on January 6, 2021.”
Hiles reports the article triggered “many credible death threats,” even injuring his daughter.
A thousand people already have faced charges for the events that day, which critics of the government have suggested were triggered by rabble-rousers in the employ of the federal government. Prosecutors say they have another thousand people they want to charge.