During his weekly hate-spewing power hour today at Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee, right-wing preacher Greg Locke announced his plans to file defamation lawsuits against CNN, Newsweek, and the conservative Christian website Pulpit & Pen.
… We just had one of the best defamation lawyers on the planet take up our case, and they gonna sue the pants off of CNN for lying about this church! We’ll see you in court, CNN! We’ll see you in court! Bunch of lying fake news devils! We’ll sue their pants off! We’ll make it the Christian Conservative News Network. We’ll own them bunch of devils.
So I just thought I’d share that. Since you’re excited, I’ll go ahead and share this, too. He’s like, “Look, we do this for a living. You got a slam dunk case against CNN.” They flat out lied about us. They lied about [COVID victim] Coburn… They lied about this church. They lied about me. They lied, lied, lied, lied. You tell them I said so. They’re watching.
But guess what happened? Remember last week when Newsweek — Newsweek didn’t just misquote me. Newsweek made me out to be a homegrown terrorist. — and said something in quotations that I didn’t even remotely say. So the guy on the phone said, “Well, guess what, we’ll sue Newsweek‘s pants off, too, because guess what? You got a slam dunk case against both of ’em. We’ll sue both of them.”
And then since I’m feeling froggy, I’m just gonna jump and say one more thing. Remember when I say “Keep your mouth shut, God will take care of you”?
He’s suing Pulpit & Pen, too, for all their stinking lies through all the years. Every last one of them. J.D. Hall. Seth Dunn. I know you watching right now, you bunch of cowards. We’re going to sue every single one of you for the lies that you’ve told about our church all these years.
You don’t believe me? See you in court! It’s gonna be fun, it’s gonna be fun!
What did they do to defame him? As far as I can tell, they just quoted him accurately.
Last month, CNN aired a segment about Locke’s COVID lies in which the reporter spoke to a family whose loved one, Coburn Kennedy, was a member of Locke’s congregation. He didn’t take COVID seriously because of what Locke said in church and then he died of COVID. CNN’s website also featured an article last week in which clips of Locke’s sermons (and those from another pastor) and his tweets were shown in direct connection to the January 6 riot on the Capitol. His Christian Nationalist rhetoric is quoted directly.
None of that is defamation. (Though it’s kind of amusing that Locke thinks he’s going to rebrand CNN as CCNN because he doesn’t know how letters work.)
Newsweek posted an article about how Locke claimed that if anyone tries to block his First Amendment right to preach — which no one is doing — he would “meet them at the door of the tent with our Second Amendment right.” That is an accurate transcript of what he said. I wrote about it too. And yet Locke said in a video that Newsweek quoted him as saying he would “take up arms” against his enemies — which he certainly implied — but I don’t see that quotation in the Newsweek article. Did they change it? Was it ever there? I don’t know. Locke doesn’t cite any actual article or line that he has a problem with. He also knows no one in his church would ever ask for evidence.
As for Pulpit & Pen, the website stopped posting new content under that name last year. The new site, Protestia, is probably what Locke is referring to… but I’m not even sure which recent article he has a problem with. They post plenty of conservative content that I find ridiculous and I’m content to just let those two fight.
But maybe none of this matters. I don’t think anyone should take these alleged lawsuits seriously until we see a record of the filing.
Locke likes attention, not action. He likes whipping people into a frenzy, not ministering to them. Notice he doesn’t say the name of this so-called expert defamation lawyer. So until I see the lawsuits, I don’t have confidence he’ll go through with it. And even if he goes through with it, it doesn’t mean he’s going to win. The more likely outcome is that, even if he does sue, a judge would just toss out the case(s) since he’s not describing anything that sounds like defamation.
It’s hard to “defame” someone whose entire schtick is saying the most awful things imaginable to a congregation full of ignorant people. It’s hard to make Locke look worse than he really is. You don’t need to defame someone when quoting his own rhetoric does plenty of damage to his reputation and faith.
And for someone who’s supposedly so concerned about defamation, Locke spent another part of the exact same sermon spreading lies about Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks.
Right-wing pastor Greg Locke used his sermon today to allege that there are child-trafficking "tunnels" under the Capitol and White House and accuse Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks of being "a bunch of pedophiles." pic.twitter.com/hYC864ir8a
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) June 27, 2021
What he said about them is far more legally problematic than anything those media outlets allegedly said about him.
(Thanks to Kyle for the link)