Climate scientist wins defamation case against right-wing writers

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Climate scientist Michael Mann won his defamation case against two right-wing bloggers and was awarded more than $1 million for posts made a decade ago.

The jury ruled that Mark Steyn and Rand Simberg defamed Mann, with both of them criticizing Mann’s findings, while Simberg compared Mann’s work to the actions of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. 

“Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet,” Simberg wrote. 

Steyn quoted Simberg’s post and also called Mann’s work “fraudulent.”

Steyn, who wrote for the conservative media outlet National Review, was ordered to pay $1 million in punitive damages, while Simberg, who was writing for the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank, was required to pay $1,000. 

They both were required to pay Mann an additional $1 to compensate him for the damages he suffered. 

In a statement posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after the court decision, Mann said: “I hope this verdict sends a message that falsely attacking climate scientists is not protected.”

Steyn’s manager Melissa Howes said in a written statement that “Mann never suffered any actual injury from the statement at issue. And today, after twelve years, the jury awarded him one dollar in compensatory damages.”

Howes also indicated that Steyn would seek a court review of the punitive damages, saying the million-dollar amount will “have to face due process scrutiny under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.”

In a written statement posted to his website, Simberg said, “I am pleased that the jury found in my favor on half of the statements at issue in this case, including finding my statement that Professor Mann engaged in data manipulation was not defamation.”

“In over a decade of litigation, the sanctions levied against Professor Mann dwarf the judgment against me,” he added.

The climate science the pair attacked was Mann’s famous “hockey stick graph” from the 1990s, which showed a dramatic rise in global temperatures in recent years that appeared similar to a hockey stick.

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