My view of the case is unchanged. I think the statements Mann attacks are best viewed as opinions expressed through vivid rhetoric and hyperbole, rather than statements of literal fact susceptible to defamation analysis. That view is strengthened by the steady progress of the law since 2012 in cases like Cox v. Obsidian Finance, which I discussed last month.1 The tone and rhetorical flair of the statements, the places they were published, and their entire tenor strongly suggest they were argumentative opinions rather than falsifiable statements of fact. Therefore, they ought to be absolutely protected by the First Amendment.(My emphasis.) So if calling Mann et al's work "fraudulent" is just "vivid rhetoric and hyperbole," what would you have to call it if in fact you thought it really was fraudulent?
I think that's a good question.
By the way, I found yet another instance where Mark Steyn called Mann et al's work fraud or fraudulent, also in the National Review:
Confronted by serious questions from Stephen McIntyre, the dogged Ontario retiree whose Climate Audit website exposed the fraud of Dr. Mann’s global-warming “hockey stick” graph)....So that makes three: in 2006 in The Australian, in 2009 in National Review, and in 2012 in NR.