Journalism fight! Journalism fight! Let's all throw spicy language and felt-tip pens at one another! Yesterday, ESPN's Chris Sheridan sued the New York Post's Peter Vecsey and his employer for libel in NY State Supreme Court. The bone of contention was a "scandalous diatribe" (to quote the complaint) that the "vituperative" Vecsey wrote on December 14, 2010. Its subject: that Sheridan was full of hooey for reporting two days earlier that Carmelo Anthony had told the Nuggets he'd only agree to sign a contract extension if he were traded to the Knicks.
In his column, which was written in broken English and deemed unreadable by experts, Vecsey called Sheridan's account a "fake" and a "yarn." He said Sheridan's informants had been "invented." He also said this:
And that's not the only part of Sheridan's yarn that never happened. For months he has claimed the Knicks and Nuggets have discussed various trades, recklessly throwing out the names of Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler and Anthony Randolph, while pretending Denver may be interested in Eddy Curry's expiring contract and that New York owns the extraneous wherewithal to acquire a No. 1 pick from a third team to include it in the package.
Sheridan demanded a retraction from Vecsey and the New York Post on April 7, 2011. The paper refused. Sheridan now wants damages in an unspecified amount. (ESPN is not involved in the litigation.) I confess to not knowing why these two men dislike each other so much. (And, clearly, the animosity goes way back.) What I do know is that it is an absolute joy to read a legal complaint (found here) that features the following language:
3. Shirking any semblance of responsible journalism, and passing off vicious and malicious lies as statements of fact, Mr. Vescey — wracked by his own historic malice toward Mr. Sheridan — fabricated an entirely false and sustained tirade against Mr. Sheridan. ...
5. "Sheer nonsense! Every last word." was among Mr. Vecsey's inaccurate, false, libelous, and flagrantly antagonistic statements regarding the truth of Mr. Sheridan's reporting.
6. The ordinary reader would believe that Mr. Sheridan had fabricated news in derogation of all known journalistic principles. Indeed, one reader commented "Wow just read the Vecsey piece in full he literally just took a hot steaming you know what on top of Chris Sheridan's head." ...
57. Mr. Sheridan has suffered damage to his personal and professional reputation as a result of Mr. Vecsey's Libelous Article.
58. Mr. Sheridan has suffered emotional distress and mental suffering as a result of Mr. Vecsey's Libelous Article.
What about the emotional distress and mental suffering these two have inflicted on us?