The Daily Pulse:

Bloggergate: Kuhlman-Hornback lawsuit

Correspondent Betty Bean reports:

Knox County Republican Party chair Ruthie Kuhlman has sued conservative blogger Brian Hornback for libel after he accused her of verbally attacking "a young Republican leader" and advocating the replacement of two prominent GOP legislators. Kuhlman says these accusations are false and demands that Hornback reveal the source who provided him with the information. She is also asking  $100,000 in monetary damages.
 
Attorney Herb Moncier filed the suit Thursday, October 17 in Knox County Circuit Court. It accuses Hornback of "wanton, reckless and willful misconduct" and acting "with a motive and a willingness to vex, harass, annoy and injure" Kuhlman and others.
 
At issue are five allegations published in Hornback's blog, "Shock and Awe," Sept. 26, under the headline, "Knox County chair verbally attacks young Republican leader."  Hornback said the "chair" (he did not identify Kuhlman by name) attempted to bully the "young Republican leader" into resigning as vice president of the Young Republicans and the West Knoxville Republican Club "if he knew what was good for him," and said that she "had already ensured he was blackballed by the money in the party."
 
The sixth allegation arose from a Sept. 27 post when Hornback wrote that Kuhlman told another party official that state Rep. Harry Brooks and state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey would need to be replaced "if we are ever to achieve Elected Superintendent status (sic)."
 
On Oct. 4, Hornback reported that he had received a letter from Kuhlman's lawyer giving him 10 days to issue a retraction and apology. He refused, saying that he'd checked with his sources and they stood by the information they had provided. He also denied having malicious intentions and refused to reveal his sources, invoking a reporter's right to safeguard confidential sources.
 
Unfortunately for Hornback, however, Tennessee's shield law, sometimes called the "reporter's privilege," does not apply in libel suits.

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