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Secret CNN Correspondence Exposed in Explosive Jake Tapper Defamation Suit

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network
Source: MEGA; CNN

Jake Tapper is at the center of a bombshell defamation suit filed against CNN.

Jun. 18 2024, Published 7:35 a.m. ET

Jake Tapper, who is set to host the first presidential debate next week, is at the center of a bombshell defamation suit filed against CNN in which he and a top correspondent are accused of slandering a former U.S. Navy veteran turned private security consultant.

Zachary Young’s company Nemex Enterprises Inc. was the subject of a November 11, 2021, episode of The Lead with Jake Tapper during which he and his security consulting firm were accused of running a “black market” amid President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network

Zachary Young’s company was the subject of a 2021 episode of “The Lead with Jake Tapper” during which he and his firm were accused of running a “black market.”

Tapper’s segment and report from Alex Marquardt painted a portrait of hustlers who charged “exorbitant fees” taking advantage of desperate people.

“In our world today, the U.S. government, the Biden administration says that as of last week it had assisted in the departure of at least 377 U.S. citizens and 279 lawful permanent residents of the U.S. from Afghanistan since August 31,” anchor Tapper reported.

“Still, many Afghans, Afghans who desperately want to flee Taliban rule and Afghans who say their lives are at stake, they remain behind.

“As CNN’s Alex Marquardt has discovered, Afghans trying to get out of the country, face a black market full of promises, demands of exorbitant fees, and no guarantee of safety or success.”

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network

Tapper’s segment and report from Alex Marquardt painted a portrait of hustlers who charged “exorbitant fees” taking advantage of desperate people.

Young has claimed CNN failed to disclose the dangers involved with getting people out of a country controlled by terrorists.

What’s more, he said Marquardt took parting shots at him before the segment ended, according to court documents RadarOnline.com has reviewed.

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“In another message, that person offering those evacuations, Zackary Young, wrote ‘availability is extremely limited, and demand is high.’ Jake, he goes on to say, ‘that’s how economics works, unfortunately’,” Marquardt reported.

Tapper retorted: “Unfortunately, hmm. Alex Marquardt thanks so much for that important report.”

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network

Young has claimed CNN failed to disclose the dangers involved with getting people out of a country controlled by terrorists.

In court filings, Young said the report defamed him as “the overall gist of CNN’s reporting was that of an investigative report to uncover bad actors preying upon desperate people at a chaotic time.”

He said while language like “exorbitant” could, perhaps, be a matter of opinion, there was “no doubt the term ‘black market’ implies illegality.”

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To back up his claims, Young produced secret communications from inside CNN in a bid to prove the network acted with actual malice, a legal standard one must provide in libel cases that shows a party’s intention to do injury to another party.

In the explosive internal messages and emails, it’s revealed CNN had internal concern about the completeness and veracity of the reporting.

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network

Young produced secret communications from inside CNN in a bid to prove the network acted with actual malice.

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The story was considered “a mess,” “incomplete,” and not “fleshed out for digital.”

“The story is 80% emotion, 20% obscured fact,” another piece of correspondence declared, and “full of holes like Swiss cheese,” according to documents.

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Nevertheless, CNN’s three independent departments — legal, standards and practice, and editorial — approved the broadcast.

Young also provided the court with a message exchange he had with Marquardt just hours before publication where he advised there were factual inaccuracies in the reporting.

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network

Young also provided the court with a message exchange he had with Marquardt just hours before publication where he advised there were factual inaccuracies in the reporting.

But the most damaging documents came in the form of internal communication that showed “CNN employees had little regard for him (Young),” according to the First District Court of Appeal in Florida that recently ruled in Young’s favor to allow him to amend his complaint in a move that paves the way for the case to go to trial.

The First District Court of Appeal found Young and his company provided sufficient evidence showing CNN’s actual malice and the network’s conduct rose to the level necessary to permit an award of punitive damages.

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The court said: “In those messages, CNN employees called him a ‘s—bag’ and ‘a-hole’ and remarked they were ‘going to nail this Zachary Young mf—er.’

“Marquardt referred to him as ‘f—ing Young’ and quipped, ‘it’s your funeral bucko.’”

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network

“In those messages, CNN employees called him a ‘s—bag’ and ‘a-hole’ and remarked they were ‘going to nail this Zachary Young mf—er.'”

CNN argued 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.”

But the court concluded: “The issue on appeal involves proper pleading, not ultimate proof.

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“We must consider whether Young made a reasonable evidentiary proffer to provide a reasonable basis for recovery of punitive damages at this stage.

“After reviewing the totality of the proffered evidence in the light most favorable to Young, we conclude that he did.

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cnn exposed jake tapper defamation staffers navy veteran sue network
Source: MEGA

“After reviewing the totality of the proffered evidence in the light most favorable to Young, we conclude that he did.”

“Young sufficiently proffered evidence of actual malice, express malice, and a level of conduct outrageous enough to open the door for him to seek punitive damages.

Whether Young can ultimately prevail is not the issue before us. The trial court properly exercised its gatekeeping role and granted Young’s motion to amend.”

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