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Lawyer for Decorated Navy Vet Vows to Go to Trial

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cnn defamation navy vet jake tapper trial damages  figures
Source: MEGA; CNN

The lawyer for a decorated Navy veteran suing the rating-starved CNN for defamation has pledged to take the network to “task.”

Jun. 24 2024, Published 4:30 p.m. ET

The lawyer for a decorated Navy veteran suing the rating-starved CNN for defamation has pledged to take the network to “task” and said there is “zero chance this case gets stopped before trial.”

In his first public comments since RadarOnline.com broke the story about the blistering court battle, Vel Freedman said his client, private security consultant Zachary Young, had been branded a “human trafficker” and a “war profiteer” in a 2021 episode of The Lead with Jake Tapper.

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cnn defamation navy vet jake tapper trial damages  figures

Zachary Young was allegedly branded a “human trafficker” and a “war profiteer” in a 2021 episode of “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

The legal pitbull said damages in the case could eclipse a billion dollars.

“CNN claims to be the ‘most trusted name in news,’ but their internal documents show that the only thing you can ‘trust’ CNN to do, is ignore the facts, push an agenda, and hurt innocent people,” said Freedman, a partner at the firm Freedman Normand Friedland LLP. “We’re looking forward to trial.”

On November 11, 2021, CNN broadcast a controversial story from its Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt about Young and his company Nemex Enterprises Inc., which coordinated rescue missions for people trapped in Afghanistan after Biden’s disastrous withdrawal.

Tapper and Marquardt linked Young to black market operations and the exploitation of individuals trapped in Afghanistan through charging exorbitant prices for their liberation.

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cnn defamation navy vet jake tapper trial damages  figures

“CNN claims to be the ‘most trusted name in news,’ but their internal documents show that the only thing you can ‘trust’ CNN to do, is ignore the facts.”

But prior to the broadcast, Young — who served four years in the Navy — informed CNN’s Marquardt his proposed segment was full of inaccuracies.

Marquardt and Tapper aired it regardless, after it received approval from the network’s top brass of senior, upper-level executives and internal monitors, whose approval was required for stories of a potentially damaging nature.

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As this publication first detailed, internal communications exposed in the Florida litigation revealed how CNN staffers believed the report was “very much not ready for prime time” and was “full of holes like Swiss cheese” — but nevertheless broadcast it in a supposed “rush.”

While Freedman acknowledged that “everyone makes mistakes”, he said CNN’s behind-the-scenes messages showed there was a “systemic problem” inside the network — which has gone from one boss to another ever since RadarOnline.com revealed one-time leader Jeff Zucker had engaged in a scandalous affair with the network’s public relations chief.

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cnn defamation navy vet jake tapper trial damages  figures

On November 11, 2021, CNN broadcast a controversial story from Alex Marquardt about Zachary Young and his company Nemex Enterprises Inc.

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Freedman added that their internal mechanism for accountability had “clearly failed” and opened themselves to “massive, massive liability.”

Freedman said Young had lost between $40-60 million in economic opportunity over the course of his career as a security contractor since people in the field no longer wanted to work with him.

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His firm has predicated the damage could be upwards of $1 billion based on Florida law around punitive damages and Young’s legal burden to prove malice.

Malice has seemingly been proved through the tranche of internal missives that also included expletive laden messages about Young.

CNN employees called him a “s—bag” and “a—hole” and remarked they were “going to nail this Zachary Young mf—er.”

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cnn defamation navy vet jake tapper trial damages  figures

Freedman said Young had lost between $40-60 million in economic opportunity over the course of his career as a security contractor.

Marquardt referred to him as “f—ing Young” and also quipped “it’s your funeral bucko,” according to court documents obtained by this website.

Of the wanting to “nail” Young, CNN editor Matthew Philips responded: “Gonna hold you to that cowboy!”

CNN has told a court it did not intend to harm, the language used was either opinion or ambiguous, and called the internal communications “journalistic bravado that reflected a sincere belief in the reporting.”

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An appeals court found Young proffered evidence of “actual malice, express malice, and a level of conduct outrageous enough to open the door for him to seek punitive damages,” according to Judge William Scott Henry.

Freedman told NewsBusters there was “no active settlement discussion” with CNN and that it was “so far off the table.”

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cnn defamation navy vet jake tapper trial damages  figures

Freedman said there was “no active settlement discussion” with CNN and that it was “so far off the table.”

His law partner, Joe Delich, added: “CNN’s internal messages are indicative of a cowboy culture that cares more about clicks than accountability. In fact, CNN promoted the primary reporter on the story after this lawsuit was filed, indicating this kind of journalism is not only tolerated at CNN—it’s rewarded.”

Tapper is scheduled to this week host the first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

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