Jesse Ventura says he sued Chris, and then after Chris’s death, Taya, Kyle to protect his reputation. Two words: “Streisand Effect.” Even if Kyle’s story wasn’t true (and the testimony was certainly contradictory), it was probably better for him to be known as Glass Jaw Janos than to get the grief he’s getting now, as SOF guys and SEALS pile on him and make him out to be the King of the Blue Falcons. Here’s one image rocketing around the net:
Keep it up, Jesse. “It’s only a flesh wound!” Yeah, that’ll buff right out. Here’s another:
That’s completely unfair, because Jesse sued Chris while he was still among us, and just persisted in his suit after Chris’s murder gave him the chance to make a statesmanlike exit. But that’s the nature of the Streisand Effect: the whole Intertubes piles on. The internet is not where you go to find fairness, or kindness, or restraint. But it is where you find your real reputation, for good or for ill.
Marcus Luttrell, who’s the kind of nobody that doesn’t act in movies but has movies made about him, got his licks in on his Facebook page. At press time, “Tim Ritter, Joseph Burch, Sebastian Smith and 72,344 others like this.” Ventura may not care: before paying a third to a half of it to his attorneys, he’s got $24.88 per “like” of Marcus’s Facebook slam of him. And, as Jesse’s noted, it’s not like he’s going to be blowing it on booze at SEAL conventions any time soon.
That SEAL/UDT “Never Quit” can work against a guy, as Ventura seems doomed to learn. But he has doubled down, saying he’s now going to sue the publisher and more people, because all those people are besmirching his stellar reputation. How can you besmirch a reputation like Ventura’s?
As soon as he left the courtroom, Jimmy went straight to Russia Today studios for his first interview. During that interview, he told the audience that they shouldn’t be mad at him, they should be mad at the jury for finding in his favor and awarding him $1.8 million. Of course, he could have dropped the law suit when Chris Kyle was murdered. He does some more whining…
“I’m already damaged…. I can’t go to a SEAL reunion anymore. That was the one place where I always felt safe. I can’t go there anymore without looking over my shoulder now wondering who is going to come after me next.”
As Jonn points out, if whoever’s “next” is really next, doesn’t that suggest Chris Kyle was first?
(Note: references to “Jimmy” or “Janos” refer to Jesse Ventura’s birth name, James Janos, under which he served in the Navy UDT. He later took the stage name “Jesse Ventura” and still later changed his name legally to his stage identity. That’s why you see people mocking him by several names).
Let a Thousand Streisands Bloom
Here’s SF retiree “Uncle Jimbo” Hanson in a brief, profane video that can be summarized as, “Don’t take the money, assclown.” Hanson writes, “I think this is worth some internet torches and pitchforks….” (See comments above about the Streisand Effect, Jim has nailed a perfect analogy).
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers) at Blackfive posted another hilarious picture under the title Janos the Anos. We don’t think he likes him.
Humberto Fontova, one of the wonderful gifts that Castroite oppression gave these United States, collects some dreamy Ventura quotes about Fidel Castro and his Cuba. Essence: better than the USG, says the rassler. Lord love a duck, this guy had a reputation?
As a former editor of a nationally significant newspaper, Robert S. McCain had to learn about libel and defamation law. He explains that that Kyle did something a journalist would (or should) not do:
He asserted private knowledge.
This is a line that no smart journalist would ever cross: To claim to know something bad about somebody, a private fact otherwise unknown, on the basis of information not publicly available.
Any reporter could publish a story about the conflict between Ventura and Kyle — the alleged barroom confrontation at the heart of this lawsuit — and write that Kyle says X, Y and Z happened, including Ventura’s denials that any such confrontation occurred, without fear that his reporting could be construed as libelous.
Kyle’s problem was that, if his altercation with Ventura actually occurred, it was not a matter of public record. Nobody called the cops; there was no police report filed. In fact, it appears that Kyle’s editors at Harper Collins recognized the potential liability involved in publishing that anecdote, so that Kyle’s book referred to Ventura as “scruff face.” It was only in subsequent media interviews that Kyle himself said that Ventura was the subject of the anecdote, and thus the truth or falsehood of Kyle’s version of events — his claim that Ventura said vile things, and that he knocked Ventura down — was central to the defamation lawsuit.
But that importance of truth or untruth suggests that it might not be over for Ventura in another way: given the judge’s remarkable jury instruction that the truth or falsehood of what Kyle said didn’t matter at all, Ventura’s success is at risk if Taya Kyle appeals:
I do not believe this case was correctly decided. In a defamation case, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant knowingly or recklessly published a falsehood. Based on what has been reported of the trial, Ventura and his witnesses cast doubt on Kyle’s story, but did not disprove it, as witnesses for the defense testified that Kyle told the truth.
If lawyers for Kyle’s estate appeal the case, I feel they have a good chance to overturn the verdict.
Like McCain, whose expertise in this realm of law we respect, we don’t know what happened that night. We do know that Jesse Ventura is a jerk, and Chris Kyle wasn’t, and that certainly colors our perception of the hostility that arose between the two of them.
If we may be forgiven a display of the other branch’s insignia, for a moment:
Let’s take arguendo the claim that Jesse only did this to protect his reputation. It’s possible; he wouldn’t be the first or only guy to have a higher opinion of himself than everyone else does. He still has a possibility for a graceful exit and we’ve already suggested it in a reply to a comment in the previous thread: donate the money to a neutral, SEAL or SOF charity (like the SEAL Foundation or the Special Operations Warrior Foundation). Better yet, do it as a joint donation from Jesse and Taya Kyle, and very, very publicly bury the hatchet. That’s his best, and unless we’re missing something, only, path to reputational recovery. If we were Jesse, we’d be having our expensive lawyers discuss this with Taya’s expensive lawyers already.
But then again, if we were Jesse, we wouldn’t be mired in a reputational problem caused by mouthing off in a bar.