The Daily Mail is in some hot water currently, facing a defamation lawsuit related to reporting rumors that the Pussycat Dolls was a prostitution ring. The band's manager Robin Antin is calling the alleged defamation an "intentional, reckless and malicious publication." The group, which has featured among others Christina Aguilera, Christina Applegate and Carmen Electra has been around since 1995.
The rumors of abuse began with Kaya Jones' claims in October amidst the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement.
<blockquote>"My truth," wrote Jones. "I wasn't in a girl group. I was in a prostitution ring. Oh & we happened to sing & be famous. While everyone who owned us made the $."</blockquote>
Jones further alleged that she was drugged, blacklisted and walked away from a $134 million record deal. The story spread from Kaya's Twitter to Daily Mail, Fox News, CBS News, New York Daily News, New York Post and other outlets but so far Daily Mail is the only outlet singled out so far in the suit.
<blockquote>According to the complaint, "This defamation action arises out of the intentional, reckless and malicious publication by the Daily Mail Corporation… of false and defamatory statements made by a disgruntled, unreliable and biased person looking for her fifteen minutes of fame, Kaya Jones, when the Defendants knew through their direct prior dealings with Plaintiffs, or should have known, with even the most basic check, that Ms. Jones was unreliable and her story obviously false. Instead, for pure sensationalism, and advertising money, and to grab salacious headlines to sell their product, and without caring what it meant for Plaintiffs, their business, or their reputation, the Defendants published and commented on these defamatory statements with a reckless disregard for the truth."</blockquote>
This case could set an important precedent in reporting that could have a chilling effect on journalism as a whole. Up till now, social media posts from people involved in situations being used as a source has become a fairly commonplace practice.
The complaint alleges that Jones had a very limited role in the group beyond auditioning and performing backup vocals on a couple of songs. The Daily Mail, they assert, should have been able to check credits available on the internet and been aware that she had a limited connection to the group. At the risk of a lawsuit by the Pussycat Dolls Inc. I'd personally like to note that if Jones' allegations are true then perhaps she was used more as a moll than as a band member.
It is further noted in the complaint that she was an "unreliable source" and the bias should have been obvious "due to her failure to be chosen to be a member of the group and reunion." Once again, just playing devil's advocate here, could this limited involvement have anything to do with the blacklisting she claimed? The Daily Mail may have been specifically singled out due to the fact that they had previously interacted with manager Robin Antin as the complaint notes, the Mail "interviewed and ran stories on Ms. Antin (referred to as "the den mother from hell" by Kaya Jones) and the members of The Pussycat Dolls" and enjoyed a "close relationship" with Antin that should have made it easy to see through the allegedly untrue claims by Jones.
Some may compare this to the lawsuit against Gawker involving Hulk Hogan suing when Gawker reported material that was obtained illegally. In a case like this where no laws have been broken; it's apples and oranges. If a precedent is set that allows reporters or news outlets to be indemnified for taking a person at their word the true job of journalism, that is exposing the truth, will have become a great deal more difficult.
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