Chinese Law Prof has a post up on the two lawsuits filed in China against CNN for Jack Cafferty’s “thugs and goons” comment. The post is entitled, CNN sued for Cafferty’s ‘thugs and goons’ comment, and in it, Chinese Law Prof analyzes the merits of the claims under Chinese (some) and US law (none).
Here’s my two cents.
Cent One: I do not think any of these lawsuits will ever see the light of day. I think the Chinese courts will snuff them out for political reasons based on instructions from on high. The Chinese courts have a nasty tendency not to allow filing of lawsuits they do not like or, if they do allow the filing of the lawsuit, to not allow them to be docketed and move forward. With Beijing making obvious efforts to clamp down on rampant nationalism right now, I am convinced it will squash these lawsuits to avoid any potential bad international PR.
Cent Two: If CNN had any guts it would leap on these cases and fight them hard. It would counterclaim against the plaintiffs for seeking to violate its free speech rights in China (there are such rights) and really just get up into the plaintiffs’ grills (that is a non-legal expression I learned while helping to coach my daughter’s high school basketball team this past summer). CNN’s defense should be that Cafferty was NOT referring to China when he said this; he was referring to the party in power. CNN could then seek to introduce evidence supporting its accusations.
These are the sort of cases that make litigation fun.
Of course none of this is ever going to happen and I am quite certain nobody will remember these lawsuits six months from now. But if it were to happen. . . .