Far-right First Amendment group founder accuses New York Times of 'egregious lies', sues for $100M

Far-right First Amendment group founder accuses New York Times of 'egregious lies', sues for $100M
Robert Patrick Lewis, Image via Screengrab

Robert Patrick Lewis, the founder of far-right group 1st Amendment Praetorian (1AP), is suing the New York Times (NYT) for allegedly defaming the organization, which played a role in the Jan. 6 attack, Rolling Stone reports.

The lawsuit, filed last month, seeks $100 million from the prominent news outlet for allegedly reporting "egregious lies" concerning the group's connection to the insurrection.

Per Rolling Stone — the first to report on the lawsuit — on the evening before the attack, Lewis was welcomed to speak on the Freedom Plaza stage by right-wing activist Cindy Chafian, whose mission was to acknowledge "people who often go unseen and unknown."

READ MORE: How DeSantis 'could potentially transform American society' by challenging the First Amendment: journalist

Chafian honored 1st Amendment Pratorian — “a play on the imperial Praetorian Guard that provided security to Roman emperors” — along with the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and other ultraconservative groups, although the organization describes itself as "non-partisan."

As Lewis, an ally of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn took the stage, he said to the crowd, “Not far from here, General George Washington — in weather just like this — loaded up a ragtag group of soldiers who crossed the Delaware River,” Lewis said, before shouting: “This is our Delaware!”

He continued, “This is our time… to make sure that we don’t cede this country and have my kids grow up in a communist hellhole." He implored listeners to "fight as hard as you can to ensure that that does not happen!”

Per Rolling Stone, the group's lawsuit falls into a series of "high-dollar defamation suits brought by 1AP that are ostensibly attempting to clear its reputation."

READ MORE: Unequal justice: Donald Trump’s war on the First Amendment will one day reach the Supreme Court

Rolling Stone reports:

Seen in another light, the lawsuits present a vivid irony: They are filed by an organization that presents itself as a protector of first amendment rights, against parties who’ve leveraged their own freedom of the press to raise concerns about 1st Amendment Praetorian.

The Jan. 6 Committee tweeted in November of 2021 that it subpoenaed a list of "organizations linked to the violent attack on the Capitol," including 1AP.

According to Rolling Stone, the subpoena letter read:

On January 4, 2021, the 1st Amendment Praetorian Twitter account suggested that violence was imminent: “There may be some young National Guard Captains facing some very, very tough choices in the next 48 hours. Pray with every fiber of your being that their choices are Wise, Just, and Fearless.”

WATCH: Marjorie Taylor Greene 'wrongly' declares her Twitter ban as illegal

The April 2022 transcript from Lewis' meeting with the committee was released in December, exposing the far-right leader's refusal to answer questions such as "Were you involved in discussions with the White House regarding efforts to overturn the election?"

He opted not to respond to the panel "citing his constitutional first and fifth amendment rights," according to Rolling Stone.

Now, Lewis is speaking up with legal action.

According to the legal filing, he alleges four articles published by the NYT "inaccurately paint 1AP as 'a right-wing paramilitary group, like high-profile extremist and far-right nationalist Proud Boys and Oath Keepers militia, that was involved in President Donald Trump’s plot to interfere with the certification of the 2020 vote count and the attack on the Capitol.'”

READ MORE: A militia expert explains the complex relationship between Trump and the Capitol riotersA militia expert explains the complex relationship between Trump and the Capitol rioters

The Trump-supporting leader maintains in the lawsuit that 1AP is “not a violent, dangerous, paramilitary, extremist group,” fully denying the group's role in the attack.

In the NYT's defense, a spokesperson told Rolling Stone, “We reported accurately and responsibly, and plan to vigorously defend against this suit.”

READ MORE: Why 'footnotes' and 'small print' are a 'powerful' part of the Jan. 6 report: legal expert

Rolling Stone's full report is available to read at this link.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}
@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by fontsempire.com.