New York Times faces $5M lawsuit over labeling author 'open white nationalist'

Newspaper says it will defend itself vigorously in the case

Anti-immigration activist Peter Brimelow, who operates a website the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group, is suing The New York Times for referring to him as an "open white nationalist."

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Brimelow, author of "Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster," filed the $5 million suit against the Times on Thursday and is accusing the newspaper of breaking its own policies by unfairly labeling him a white nationalist and not issuing a correction when he requested one.

The newspaper implied "race hatred and traits inconsistent with his profession," the lawsuit states. "Plaintiff has been injured in his good name, fame, credit, profession and reputation as a man, and in his various public and private positions."

The Times said in a statement that it stands by its work "and will defend against the claim vigorously."

The lawsuit cites Times editorial standards -- such as commitment to fairness and impartiality, refraining from editorialization and pledging to correct all factual errors --that it says the news outlet failed to uphold when reporting about him.

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Brimelow -- whose website VDARE is named after Virginia Dare, believed to be the first white child born in North America -- also condemns the Times for relying on a characterization of his ideology as white nationalist from the Southern Poverty Law Center. He says the organization is "disreputable."

The headquarters of the New York Times was completed in 2007. The 169-year-old daily newspaper was founded in 1851.

The group's profile of Brimelow himself includes quotes from the author claiming that Latino people are more prone to rape than those of other ethnic groups and that changes in federal law in the 1960s created a system in which people from "third-world countries" accounted for most immigration to the U.S. The center describes VDARE as an "immigrant-bashing hate site that regularly publishes works by white supremacists."

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In Brimelow's lawsuit, he emphasizes his constitutional right to express his opinions even if controversial and points to his characterization of himself as a "civic nationalist" in the past.

Media Matters for America editor Parker Molloy, who tweeted about the lawsuit, quoted Brimelow as saying, "My heart is with civic nationalism, but my head is with racial nationalism," in her 2018 interview with the author.

The Times didn't reach out to Brimelow, "who did and does deny being a white nationalist, let alone an 'open white nationalist,'" before publishing the articles that mentioned him, the lawsuit said. Additionally, the Times didn't issue a correction after Brimelow demanded it do so, the lawsuit states.

After he contacted the newspaper, it removed the word "open" from "open white nationalist" in an online version of one article and linked the word "white nationalist" to the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, the suit says.

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