Remember back in the day when we told you that Citizens United was threatening legal action against CNN for how its program, “Broken Government,” depicted the organization? And then CNN largely brushed off the complaints, declaring:
“These claims are baseless. CNN stands behind the program and the reporters involved.”
Well, CNN has budged slightly (but not much). In a note from David Vigilante, vice president and associate general counsel for Turner broadcasting, to Bill Crispin, who’s representing Citizens United in this matter, Vigilante doesn’t really say “we’re sorry,” but does say that — unless you’re an idiot — you should have known that we meant no harm by it. Again, unless you’re an idiot.
We’ve obtained the text of the letter and reprint it here:
This letter follows our recent telephone conversation. You sought additional clarification of CNN’s position with respect to coverage of your client in the above program. I would reiterate that CNN’s characterization of Citizens United as one of the “fringe militia” groups is a metaphor and is permissible and protected speech under the First Amendment. Throughout the program military language was used as a metaphorical, stylistic device and it is obvious to any reasonable viewer that CNN was by no means suggesting that Citizens United or any other group actually engages in military maneuvers or physical attacks. CNN regrets if anyone misunderstood this metaphor and took it literally, and we hope it is clear to any reasonable viewer that CNN did not intend to create this impression.
Very truly yours,
And yes: We, like you, find it very funny that in a debate over the use of the word “militia,” the last name of CNN’s lawyer is “Vigilante.”