A Christian preacher whose ministry features hard rock, high school seminars and an occasional letter exchange with Barack Obama is arguing in federal court in Washington that a defamation complaint against MSNBC, NBC and Rachel Maddow should go to trial because of, among other things, the death threats he’s endured because of her “malicious” criticism of him and his work.
“Defendants’ outrageous and maliciously published statements have severely harmed not only plaintiffs’ reputations, but also their financial well-being,” said a motion in opposition to Maddow’s request that the case be dismissed.
The motion was filed by Larry Klayman, an attorney working on behalf of Bradlee Dean and his You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International ministry.
The lawsuit, alleging defamation, contends that left-leaning interests were trying to undercut Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign by attacking people with whom she associated, including Dean’s ministry. Bachmann’s unsuccessful campaign was focused on a return to traditional values regarding marriage, fiscal policy and government.
The complaint by Dean, a former heavy metal rocker, is based on Maddow’s assertion that Dean advocated the execution of homosexuals.
According to the complaint, the false characterization started with reporter Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent.
“Defendant Birkey, on information and belief, took a ‘special interest’ in plaintiffs Dean and (his ministry) YCR because he is a secularist and/or atheist and gay activist with a politically left ideology who despises people of faith, including but not limited to the congresswoman Michele Bachmann, MN, who is running for the presidency of the United States, and is a conservative Christian as well.
“On information and belief, defendant Birkey, the Minnesota Independent, Rachel Maddow, and NBC and MSNBC, in concert with others, have set out to and did willfully and maliciously harm the presidential campaign of congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Not coincidentally, Rachel Maddow is also of a leftist political ideology, who as a committed and also proud lesbian is active in the so called ‘gay rights’ movement. She views plaintiffs and congresswoman Bachmann a threat to ‘gay rights,’” the claim explained.
It continued: “On information and believe … [in defaming] plaintiffs Dean and YCR and holding in a false light plaintiff Dean, all of the defendants, each and every one of them, maliciously set out to and did harm not only the plaintiffs but by extension also the presidential campaign of congresswoman Michele Bachmann.”
In May 2010, Birkey wrote wrote an article titled “GOP-linked punk rock ministry says executing gays is ‘moral’” that tried to link Bachmann to the ministry. Bachmann had praised the ministry previously.
The complaint said it was Maddow who later “outrageously disparaged Bradlee Dean’s physical appearance, his first name and his profession as a heavy metal entertainer and his standing in the community and represented that he and YCR had advocated the execution of gays.”
But when Maddow asked the court to dismiss the complaint on a variety of grounds, Klayman’s opposition explained why it only would be fair to allow the case to continue.
“There are no justifiable bases to contend that plaintiff has not been placed in false light and defamed. What is most horrifying, however, is the effect defendants’ statements had on viewers, leading many viewers to not only discredit Dean but to also threaten Dean’s life. … As a father of four, nothing was more petrifying to Dean that continuously receiving death threats, such as one particular disturbing Internet threat that warned, ‘Now I’m gonna have to kill you! I thought we were gonna cut each others’ hair then have sex, but you stood me up! I am so upset that I think I may just have to blow up your ministry instead!’” the filing explained.
“Making the threats more imminent is that some radical homosexual activists went as far as posting a picture and plaintiffs’ physical address, providing a roadmap to where plaintiffs can be found and harmed,” the filing said.
The response to Maddow’s request to the court said it was in 2010 when Dean discussed homosexuality on the radio program “Sons of Liberty.”
He was seeking to encourage Christians to take a stronger stand against the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Dean specifically rejects, as do Christians in general, the Islamic practice of executing homosexuals, the filing explains.
Maddow, in reproducing his comments on her program later, selected statements to suggest that Dean advocated execution for homosexuals.
“Defendants altered plaintiffs’ previous statements and distorted them in order to defame plaintiffs and place them in a false light,” the filing said. For example, “it is important to note that Maddow only broadcasted five sentences from plaintiffs’ original comment, [made up] of 19 complete sentences. Moreoever, the three phrases defendants strategically chose to broadcast were unrelated and unconnected, each found in different sections of plaintiffs’ comments.”
The brief noted the recent “editing” by NBC of the 911 call in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida to suggest that such events are not unusual at the network.
NBC quote Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”
But NBC had edited out critical parts of the conversation. In reality, Zimmerman said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”
The operator then asked: “OK, and this guy – is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman said, “He looks black.”
Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and now of Freedom Watch, said money is not the issue.
“This case is filed as a matter of principle,” he said. “We need more Bradlee Deans in the world and hateful left wing television commentators must be made to respect not only his mission but the law.”
Dean became a Christian after suffering a hard life as a young boy and has dedicated his life to his ministry’s mission.
Klayman said: “Maddow and MSNBC clearly defamed my client. Maddow went way over the line, particularly in her second broadcast by claiming that Dean and Republicans like then-presidential candidate Michele Bachmann are ‘bloodthirsty’ and want to see more gays and lesbians killed. This was outrageous and harmful and for this, Maddow and MSNBC will be held legally accountable.”
You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, founded by Dean, has reached more than 500,000 young people across the country with a message of truth and hope. His message focuses on basic constitutional issues. He’s also spoken at churches, festivals, prisons, detention centers and on radio and television programs.
Dean also is drummer for Junkyard Prophet, which has sold more than 40,000 albums in the Minneapolis area alone. Bradlee is endorsed by companies such as Sonor, Buttkickers, Beatnik (including his own signature drum pad), Hornet Drumsticks (including his own signature sticks) and Soultone Cymbals.
His letter exchange with Obama came just months ago when he asked the president to pursue a restoration of traditional morality in the United States, and Obama responded.