Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) is angry about his negative press coverage.
Congressman Devin Nunes is also not particularly bright, judging by how he’s decided to deal with his anger.
A few weeks ago, Nunes made headlines when he filed a defamation lawsuit against Twitter and the owners of two parody accounts on the social media platform, including one jokingly purporting to belong to the cow owned by Nunes, a former dairy farmer.
That thin-skinned lawsuit earned the congressman ridicule and derision as a “snowflake” with a poor grasp of the First Amendment. The ridicule grew worse when the press coverage of Nunes’ legal action resulted in a surge of followers for the Twitter account of his supposed cow which now has over 200,000 more followers than Nunes’ own account.
One would think that after that public relations misstep, Representative Nunes would have learned a lesson, however, that would require a level of strategic thinking that is apparently absent from the ranks of the congressman and his legal team.
Instead, yesterday Nunes doubled down on his litigious attacks against anyone publishing things about him that he doesn’t like by filing a $150 million lawsuit against The McClatchy Co., the owners of his hometown newspaper, The Fresno Bee.
According to a report in The Huffington Post:
“The suit accuses McClatchy and its reporters, as well as political strategist Liz Mair, of conspiring to “destroy” the congressman’s reputation and interfere with his oversight work into the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, according to Fox News.”
The “conspiracy” to defame Nunes, in this case, consisted of a factually reported article about a scandal at the Alpha Omega Winery, a business primarily owned by Nunes’ pal Robin Baggett and in which the congressman has partial ownership, involving a charity cruise on a luxury yacht, mounds of cocaine, and a group of sex workers.
The Fresno Bee‘s investigatory reporting found that Alene Anase, an employee of the winery, was assigned to serve the company’s wine on a San Francisco Bay cruise that had been auctioned off as a benefit for charity.
When the winery’s yacht was already sailing on the bay, Anase discovered that she was trapped on the ship with 25 men, described as all top investors in the vineyard, who were “openly using what appeared to be cocaine and ‘drawing straws’ for which sex worker to hire, according to the lawsuit.”
Unable to leave the ship, Anase testified that “she could hear sexual activity happening in the yacht’s bedrooms and witnessed men ‘fondling and suckling’ sex workers’ breasts — some who appeared to be ‘too young to consent.’”
Anase was there to serve wine, but at least one of the cruise attendees mistook her for one of the sex workers and propositioned her, asking if she would “provide services of a sexual nature.”
Apparently, Representative Nunes was not happy to see his name associated with the scandal at the company of which he owned a piece. However, according to The Fresno Bee, Nunes never bothered to ask for a correction of the originally published story nor did he dispute any of the details at the time.
Now that Republicans are out of power in the House of Representatives and Nunes has lost his chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, he apparently now has the free time to file frivolous lawsuits over a nearly year-old and mostly forgotten newspaper article. The irony of Nunes — one of the co-sponsors of a GOP bill titled the “Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act” — filing yet another flimsy defamation lawsuit seemingly eluded the Congressman.
As did the teachable moment from his previous lawsuit involving the parody Twitter accounts. Predictably, the day after Congressman Nunes filed his lawsuit, the hashtag #YachtCocaineProstitues was the top trending topic on Twitter.
When Devin Nunes does eventually leave Congress — whether voluntarily or not — one would hope that he has learned enough from his recent experiences to realize that his next career move should not be to open a media consulting firm — not unless a big market opens up among people seeking humiliation.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.