LIV Golf player Patrick Reed’s attorney is already suing five sports media personalities and four companies for defamation.
Now, conservative activist attorney Larry Klayman has threatened to bring similar claims against Bob Costas, CNN, Bloomberg, and others on behalf of the former Masters champ.
Klayman wrote two separate letters this month. In one sent Sunday, Klayman threatened to sue CNN for more than $450 million “if an on air public apology is not immediately made to Mr. Reed,” and “discipline meted out” to Costas and CNN anchor Jake Tapper over a segment on LIV Golf that ran last week.
Klayman also demanded the segment from last Thursday — which Reed wasn’t even mentioned in — be removed from CNN’s website. That letter was addressed to Tapper, Costas, CNN CEO Chris Licht, and CNN attorney David Vigilante.
Klayman gave CNN five days to respond.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit, whose aim is to chill free speech and intimidate journalists from covering important stories about the Saudi government and the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement to Front Office Sports on Wednesday. “CNN will aggressively defend its reporting, which did not even mention the plaintiff in its coverage.
Golf Monthly was the first outlet to report on the letters.
In a Jan. 5 letter to Bloomberg CEO Michael Bloomberg and reporter Erik Larson, Klayman demanded a Jan. 4 story titled “Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Is Using PGA Suit to Get Data on 9/11 Families, Court Told” be taken down.
Klayman also pushed Bloomberg to “severely discipline” Larson, who Klayman claims “has endangered lives” in his letter. Like the CNN segment, Reed wasn’t mentioned in the story.
Klayman originally filed a federal defamation lawsuit in Texas last year, before that case was dropped. A new defamation case — which had many of the same claims — was re-filed in a Florida federal court in September.
Golf Channel, analyst Brandel Chamblee, hosts Damon Hack, Shane Bacon, and Eamon Lynch are among the defendants in that case. Conde Nast (the parent company of the New Yorker), New Yorker writer Zach Helfand, Gannett, and Gannett Satellite Information Network are the other defendants listed in an amended complaint filed by Klayman after the first complaint was dismissed.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….a public figure could bring a defamation suit without proving the challenged statements were false statements of fact published with actual malice,” attorneys for Gannett wrote in a motion to dismiss filed on Friday. “This is the fictional galaxy where Reed’s amended complaint exists.”
Beyond a dismissal, the defendants in the case have asked the judge to award attorney’s fees.