The British paper the Daily Mail slapped fellow tabloid Gawker Media with a defamation lawsuit Thursday in New York State Supreme Court, alleging that a post Gawker published earlier this year by an ex-Mail Online freelancer is "false and defamatory" and intended to "disparage the Mail and harm its reputation."
Gawker is a co-defendant with the author of the piece, James King, who wrote the March 4 post titled, "My Year Ripping Off the Web With The Daily Mail Online."
Not only does Mail Media, the Daily Mail's parent company, deny the content of King's piece, which says the website routinely encourages and shrugs off plagiarism and sensationalism, it alleges that editors at the Mail in fact caught King plagiarizing.
In addition, the Mail rails against King's character: The complaint brings up his being "arrested and detained by police on a bench warrant for traffic-related offenses," his lateness, and even digs into his personal Facebook account in which he complained about his job at the Mail, complete with screenshots embedded in the complaint.
One Facebook post published in the complaint focuses on King's "fantasies" of being fired and "kicking [his editor] right in the nuts and going home."
"Defendant King Briefly Works As A Freelance Independent Contractor For The Mail And Performs Poorly," reads one section.
Despite all this, the complaint notes that the Mail offered King a job in the summer of 2013. He turned them down: "The Mail offered Defendant King a position as a Mail employee, but Defendant King declined the offer."
The lawsuit was first reported by the Washington Post's Erik Wemple, whom, the complaint notes, King approached last year to publish the piece. Wemple turned it down after contacting the Mail for comment. "The Erik Wemple Blog declines to expand upon this matter here or anywhere else," Wemple wrote in his post.
As Wemple noted, the Mail, despite its argument in the suit, holds a reputation for thinly sourced, sensationalist, and sometimes demonstrably false reports. As a sign of its esteem among other media companies, The New York Times recently appended a lengthy editors' note to a book review that made use of an unsubstantiated rumor reported by the Mail.
“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," Gawker said in a statement provided to International Business Times.
Read the full complaint below: