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MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wants $50M Defamation Suit Dismissed

By Edward Tan, JD on April 23, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has struck back at a $50 million defamation lawsuit filed against her by conservative preacher Bradlee Dean. Maddow and NBC Universal have filed an anti-SLAPP motion that, if successful, would force Dean to pay legal fees and end his suit.

Dean, a former heavy metal drummer (seriously), sued Maddow and company in July. He accused her of twisting his words in order to undermine Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachman.

With the filing of Maddow and NBCU's motion, Dean's case may be coming to an end. But did his defamation lawsuit ever have legs to begin with?

Maybe not. Courts have long held that truth is a defense against defamation claims. In Maddow's case, it's no different.

The alleged defamatory act took place on "The Rachel Maddow Show." Maddow played an edited clip of Dean speaking on his radio show in which he said "Muslims are calling for the execution of homosexuals in America." And that "[if] America won't enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just [that]..."

Click here to watch the segment in its entirety (skip to 3:00 for Dean's statement and a sweet shot of him in a bandana).

Afterwards, Maddow read a clarification from Dean in which he said he "never and will never call for the execution of homosexuals." Though apparently God has no issue with doing so.

Dean claimed Maddow mangled his original wonderful message that God will kill you if you're gay and turned it into something dirty. The problem with his defamation lawsuit is that Maddow played his actual statement from his radio show. In other words, it was the truth.

Most courts would probably find it hard to believe Dean was defamed by Rachel Maddow's actions. And short of digging up Johnnie Cochran, any lawyer would have a tough time winning a defamation suit with this kind of evidence.

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