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Obama's YouTube accuser has no grounds for defamation claim

Larry Sinclair gained some noteriety when he put up a YouTube video earlier this year and spun a pretty outrageous tale that involved cocaine, Barack Obama and oral sex, not necessarily in that order. All this from an admitted felon, drug dealer and smuggler of illegal aliens. Needless to say, Sinclair has a slight credibility problem, which a few people have pointed out on various blogs and Web sites, including Democratic Underground. So what does this have to do with us here at Public Citizen? Well, it boils down to a free speech issue. Sinclair didn’t take kindly to some of his online critics and has filed a defamation suit against a couple of them. Public Citizen is defending one of the online critics, as well as the Democratic Underground.

In a letter Public Citizen sent to Sinclair’s attorney, Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy objected to the subpoenas that seek to identify the people who criticized Sinclair on Democratic Underground. The fact is, Sinclair has become a public figure and his critics have a First Amendment right to bash him — even anonymously, if they wish.

Sinclair’s defamation claims are also a little hard to swallow.

“It’s hard to believe that anything our clients could say about Mr. Sinclair could do further harm to his reputation,” Levy said. “Larry Sinclair got his 15 minutes of fame and – with it – he has to accept the First Amendment right of others to criticize his actions.”