Suit Filed Against L. Brent Bozell III, Media Research Center Cites Tortious Interference, Product Disparagement, Defamation
STAMFORD, CONN. - WWE Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE), today filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against L. Brent Bozell III, his extremist organization, Media Research Center, Inc., its fictitious named entity, the Parents Television Council, and others.
In its complaint, filed by the law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, WWE seeks relief and damages from a systematic campaign of slanderous and tortious activities devised and orchestrated by right-wing zealot L. Brent Bozell III against WWE. The 10-count filing states that Bozell and other defendants have used a pattern of "unlawful threats, intimidation, coercion, deception and flat-out lies" to conspire to damage WWE and interfere with WWE's existing and prospective contracts with sponsors, advertisers, licensees and retailers.
Some of the more appalling examples of Bozell's malicious campaign of lies and intimidation cited in the complaint include:
• Concocting a false list of advertisers who Bozell claims have pulled their support from WWE programming. Bozell published this list using advertiser trademarks on the MRC/PTC Internet web site, and in MRC/PTC news releases to create the misleading impression that his tactics have been effective. This apparently was done without the knowledge of the advertisers falsely listed.
• Threatening to denounce dozens of targeted advertisers of WWE as not being "family friendly" if they do not capitulate to his demands to withdraw support for WWE programming.
• Using the same pattern of false, malicious and fraudulent statements about WWE to threaten major retailers.
• Raising funds from the public through solicitations using the same false, malicious and fraudulent statements about WWE.
• Falsely accusing WWE of being responsible for what the PTC has called "the four murders of young children," including Bozell's participation in a deliberate, outrageous, and wholly contrived media hoax to blame WWE for Lionel Tate's alleged murder of a little girl named Tiffany Eunick. In the Tate case, still being tried in the Florida courts, the judge rejected Tate's attorney's attempt to conduct a "wrestling" defense in the case. In the other cases, no charges of any kind were brought or investigated against WWE.
The complaint alleges that Bozell funds his ultra-conservative views and causes by exercising managerial control over a variety of fundraising corporations, such as the Media Research Center and the fictitious named entity, Parents Television Council. The supposedly "non-partisan" PTC is a fictional vehicle Bozell uses to further the activities of his extremist Media Research Center, a self-described conservative media watchdog organization.
L. Brent Bozell III has personally paid himself hundreds of thousands of dollars from these organizations for his salary and expenses. The Better Business Bureau of Metro Washington D.C. has cited Bozell and the MRC/PTC with failure to comply with certain requirements regarding fundraising practices and governance.
Bozell and his MRC/PTC have railed against some of the most popular and most watched shows in America, shows enjoyed by tens of millions of families every week. These shows include The West Wing, Diagnosis Murder, JAG, The Practice, Dharma & Greg, Spin City, Will & Grace, The X-Files, The Drew Carey Show, Frasier, Judging Amy, Star Trek Voyager, Everybody Loves Raymond, and The Simpsons.
The complaint alleges that Bozell misrepresents and misuses so-called data compiled from his own television "research" conducted by his front organizations. These self-serving "conclusions" are used to castigate and vilify the artists, producers and networks offering programs found incompatible with his extremist personal views, and to shame parents, grandparents, retailers and advertisers who enjoy and support these programs.
The complaint states that, in 1999, Bozell and MRC/PTC agents targeted WWE and began a pattern of systematically interfering with WWE's business through "a calculated and deliberate attempt to coerce sponsors and advertisers not to advertise their product on WWE programming." The filing lays out the program of threatened boycotts, disparagement, and harm to future business against advertisers, sponsors, licensees and retailers doing business with WWE.
"L. Brent Bozell III uses a consistent pattern of lies, self-concocted hoaxes, threats, and intimidation to try to destroy WWE's business and intimidate WWE's advertisers, sponsors, licensees, and retailers" said Jerry S. McDevitt, partner in Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and lead trial counsel for WWE. "We intend to stop it."
The full legal complaint can be viewed at www.wwecorpbiz.com/media/complaint.html