In the old days, American newspapers dispatched court reporters to cover trials for what they were: legal proceedings. Today, they don't send any reporters to court, but get their "climate correspondent" or "environment reporter" to file a story about "attacks on scientists" - even though, in this case, the "scientist" is the plaintiff.
Into this wasteland of groupthink hackery came everyone's favourite Irish double-act, Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, with an innovative and energetic format: Sit in court all day soaking up the atmosphere and the corridor conspiracies, and get a cast of professional actors to re-enact all the best bits in an audio dramatisation later that evening. The result, as Mark's former GB News colleague Laurence Fox says, is "addictive and brilliant" - and shows more wit and incisiveness than you'll get from a decade-long subscription to the somnolent Washington Post.
So here is Ann and Phelim's postscript to their highly engaging series - their take on the verdict, which saddled Steyn with a solitary greenback in "actual damages" to Mann but a million bucks in "punitive damages". Click below to listen:
We are pleased to announce that Ann and Phelim will be joining us on the Mark Steyn Cruise - so we may even reprise a trial moment or two, but with Mark taking the part of the Geico gekko.
Steyn's favourite of the four weeks of trial was what he thinks of as its Minnesotan phase, when former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and Powerline blogger John Hinderaker were in town, and in court. Despite many decades as a US trial lawyer, John was cautiously optimistic about the outcome. Then came the verdict:
The case is destined for more years in the appellate courts. In John Williams' closing argument on behalf of Mann, he said that the jury should award punitive damages so that in the future, no one will dare engage in "climate denialism"–whatever that is–just as Donald Trump's "election denialism" needs to be suppressed. In 41 years of trying cases to juries, I never heard such an outrageously improper appeal. John Williams should be ashamed of himself, but he won't be, because this jury apparently bought his argument: they want to make Mark Steyn pay $1 million out of his own pocket, to a plaintiff who suffered no damages but only made an ideological argument, so that no one will, ever again, try to challenge the regime's global warming narrative. However false that narrative may be.
Ironically, the case may have come full circle. Mark always wanted to try this case as a free speech issue. But that didn't quite work, since defamation has always been an exception to the First Amendment, or whatever free speech principles may apply. But now Michael Mann's lawyer has made it explicit: impose an arbitrary seven figure penalty on Mark Steyn, not to compensate the plaintiff Michael Mann, who didn't suffer any damages whatsoever, but rather to deter anyone from ever again arguing that climate change alarmists are wrong, however flawed their science may be.
It is hard to imagine anything more anti-scientific or anti-American.
And here's Michele, with a couple of old friends from Steyn's Rush days:
What the Mark Steyn verdict proved is that if you're a conservative — and especially if you're a conservative who dares to disagree with the "status quo" — your free speech rights do not matter:@JennyBethM, @MicheleBachmann, @SteveKingIA, and @RepLouieGohmert discuss: pic.twitter.com/KqG57WPRa7— Tea Party Patriots (@TPPatriots) February 9, 2024
"I wouldn't mind seeing it appealed," said Louie Gohmert above. It will be. More details of that next week.
See also defence witness Dr Judith Curry on the ethics complaint she considered against Mann.
So the case staggers on to its next phase. We thank everyone, including John and Michele, for their messages of encouragement these last thirty-six hours or so. And we especially thank all those who've opted to treat a chum to a SteynOnline Gift Certificate or a Mark Steyn Club Gift Membership.