While Fox obsesses about what Michael Moore said about the American Sniper film, they’re pretty darned mum about how its real-life protagonist, Chris Kyle, has been proven to be a liar. Or how Fox’s sister company, which published the American Sniper book the movie was based on, will probably have to pay big bucks to Jesse Ventura over his libel suit.
I’ve written extensively about Ventura’s challenge to Kyle’s claim (made on The O’Reilly Factor) to have decked him in a SEAL bar, supposedly because of some derogatory comments Ventura – a former SEAL, himself – made about other SEALs. Last summer, Ventura was awarded $1.8 million after he sued Kyle’s estate for defamation. Kyle’s widow is currently appealing the decision.
According to Slate, her chances of winning are slim. But she’ll probably still have “many millions of dollars left” when all is said and done. However, there’s another lawsuit in the offing for HarperCollins. Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern explains:
Several months after the verdict against the Kyle estate, Ventura brought another lawsuit for unjust enrichment, this time against HarperCollins. The lawsuit explains that while Kyle is the one who defamed Ventura, HarperCollins played up those defamatory statements in order to boost its sales—and with reckless disregard to the truth of Kyle’s claims.
This suit is the second of Ventura’s one-two punch, and from here, it looks like a knockout. During the first trial, Ventura’s attorneys uncovered records of HarperCollins’ negligence in fact-checking Kyle’s book, as well as evidence that HarperCollins specifically touted the Ventura story to drum up publicity. Kyle’s ghostwriters spoke with only one person who claimed to have witnessed the fight, a friend of Kyle’s who told a different version of the story that lacked Ventura’s offensive remarks. No one from HarperCollins contacted Ventura or his representatives to verify the story. And though Kyle claimed Ventura appeared at a SEAL graduation afterward with a black eye—where “everybody was laughing” and asking “Who beat the shit out of him?”—HarperCollins never asked a member of the graduating class whether they saw Ventura’s injury. (A photograph from the event shows a clear image of Ventura—with no black eye.)
Meanwhile, Stern noted other very dubious stories told by Kyle, more extensively described in The New Yorker: one involved killing two carjackers and another had him shooting armed looters from the top of the Superdome in post-Katrina New Orleans. Kyle’s 160 kills in Iraq, however, have been confirmed by the Pentagon.
Stern predicts that no matter how many millions Ventura wins, HarperCollins will still make a hefty profit, now that the film is such a big hit.
Nevertheless, Fox has every reason to promote Kyle as an unqualified hero. Besides the fortunes of sister company HarperCollins, there’s the role Fox played promoting the Ventura story – and then attacking Ventura when he challenged Kyle.
In none of the many, many segments I've seen on Fox about American Sniper, has Fox ever questioned Kyle's veracity. They've been too busy attacking the film's critics as unpatriotic. Or, in Bill O'Reilly's case, as a possible terrorist sympathizer. Maybe by going on offense, Fox figures it can distract from how it cooked the book on Kyle. God knows, the “fair and balanced” network probably dreads another round of apologies so soon after its “Muslim no-go zone” disaster. But really, Fox should not be allowed to wriggle out of this one, either.
Watch The O’Reilly Factor’s 2012 re-airing of the Kyle interview in which no mention was made of Ventura’s dispute, below.
You can like American Sniper as much as you want, the real thing had all the warning signs of a future spree killer. And don’t even try saying “well maybe those comments were…” No, he killed that many people, him talking about liking it so much is, if anything, even more of a red flag if he’s saying it for the attention.
And Fox News is terrified of people actually informing their opinion and saying “Good sniper or not, he was nuts!”. How much he lied about everything is definitely a gateway to them realizing that.