Earlier this year, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi sued Glenn Beck for defamation over the fact that Beck had dedicated several days of radio and television programming to alleging that Alharbi, who was injured in the Boston Marathon bombing, was actually an al Qaeda “control agent” and “money man” who had financed the bombing and recruited the Tsarnaev brothers to carry it out.
None of that was true and so Alharbi sued Beck, seeking “punitive damages for defamation with malice.” Now, Beck’s lawyers have responded to the suit by arguing that it should be dismissed on the grounds that Alharbi was a “public figure” and that Beck’s attacks on him were protected by the First Amendment:
Radio host Glenn Beck says in a recent legal filing that his on-air remarks inaccurately linking a Saudi Arabian student to the Boston Marathon bombings were protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and that a federal judge should dismiss a libel case the student brought against Beck and his employers.
Beck’s lawyers, in their recent filing in U.S. District Court for Boston, don’t question Alharbi’s innocence. But they argue that courts have set a high standard for libel in similar cases and that Alharbi’s grievances fall short of that standard.
The talk show host’s lawyers argue that to prevail in court against their client, Alharbi would have to prove “actual malice,” including that Beck deliberately made false accusations against Alharbi.
Beck’s lawyers also argue that the radio host’s remarks were Constitutionally-protected criticism of the government’s handling of national security. And they argue that Alharbi became a public figure in the days after the bombings, a designation that raises the bar for a libel claim.