Defamation case against media defendant is rejected where published report was "mean-spirited" but essentially true
Michael Williams sued WJBK-TV, its parent company and reporter, arguing that it defamed him with falsehoods contained in a "Hall of Shame" portrayal. The television station had impugned Williams by portraying him, he alleged, in a false light: suggesting that he wrote a successful book on the Obama election but failed to pay his printer and wrote an NSF check to cover the printing costs. Williams argued that while he had previously bounced checks to the printer, the Obama-book check was bounced through a credit union error. The court reviewed the facts and concluded that even though the report was "mean spirited" and contained "minor inaccuracies" it was "substantially true" and therefore not actionable. Williams' claim was dismissed. The court did reject the TV station's request for sanctions, holding that Williams' claim "was not devoid of arguable legal merit."