National sports podcaster files motion to dismiss Brett Favre’s defamation suit
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A national sports podcaster has filed a motion to dismiss a defamation suit brought against him by a former professional quarterback tied to the largest welfare scandal in Mississippi history.
On Friday, Pat McAfee filed a motion to dismiss the charges brought against him by retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, who has accused him of making libelous statements against him on his popular nationwide podcast.
McAfee claims Favre’s case is baseless and that having to defend against such charges could “unduly burden” free speech.
“As a public figure bringing suit against a media defendant for reporting on matters of public concern, which are subject of official proceedings and detailed at length in public records, Favre cannot state a claim for defamation upon which relief can be granted,” attorneys for McAfee write.
At the heart of the matter are comments McAfee made about the quarterback’s alleged involvement in the scam, which involved the misspending of millions of dollars in federal funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
In a November 30 episode of “The Pat McAfee Show,” for instance, McAfee said Favre “tied the hands of poor people” and “took money right out of their pockets.”
He also referred to the Hall of Fame quarterback as being an actual member of the “Sticky Bandits,” the robbers in the first two Home Alone movies.
Favre issued a demand for a retraction, but McAfee denied, prompting the lawsuit.
McAfee, though, says he was speaking in hyperbole and that the discussion was the kind of “unconventional and humorous reporting on hot topics in sports” that listeners expect.
“No reasonable listener would have interpreted his comments as actual statements of fact about Favre,” McAfee’s attorneys state.
However, they argue that even if the host’s comments could be interpreted as statement of fact, “they would be substantially true.”
They point to the fact that prior to the show in question, Favre had been sued by the Mississippi Department of Human Services “for his involvement in the diversion of $3.2 million in TANF... to himself.”
Attorneys go on to state that the lawsuit, as well as news articles, also point out that Favre was involved in “the misdirection of an additional $5 million in TANF funds to his alma mater... for construction of a volleyball facility.”
“A verbatim recitation of these facts... would have produce no different effect on the minds of The Show’s listeners than McAfee’s hyperbolic rhetoric.”
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