This article was originally published 8/3/14, after Jesse Verdict won a defamation verdict and a $1.8 million dollar damage award against the estate of Chris Kyle, the US Navy Seal whose life is dramatized in American Sniper, which was widely released this weekend. It is a disturbing analysis, not just of Kyle, but of lionization in the popular media and Hollywood. From T4C, at theburningplatform.com:
A few weeks ago I was reading online about the defamation lawsuit filed by Jesse Ventura against former Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle. The case sounded pretty interesting, so, I borrowed from a friend a copy of American Sniper, the autobiography of Chris Kyle, and read it. It was a very compelling read. Here is a little background on Chris Kyle and his story: Kyle was a Navy SEAL sniper from Texas. He claims to be the deadliest sniper in American history with over 160 ‘confirmed’ kills. Confirmed kills are defined as kills with at least one other witness besides the shooter. Kyle served four tours of duty in Iraq and was awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for Valor for his actions during the war. Upon returning to Texas after his tours of duty were over, he settled down with his wife and two kids, started a security firm and wrote a book about his experiences as a sniper. The book, American Sniper, became an instant success and propelled Chris Kyle into a sort of celebrity status. Kyle also worked helping other war veterans deal with PTSD when they returned from the war. On February 2, 2013, Chris brought a vet suffering from PTSD to a shooting range where the vet shot and killed both Chris Kyle and a friend. The Court Case In the lead up to the defamation case going to trial, all of the legal experts on television and in print said that it was highly unlikely that Jesse Ventura could win the case because the bar was set very high in defamation cases concerning celebrities. According to these various experts, in order for Ventura to win he would need to prove that not only did Chris Kyle lie about him, but also prove that he did so maliciously and that he prospered from it. Despite the very high burden of proof, on July 19, 2014, Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota, WWF wrestler, TV show host and Former Navy SEAL (technically he was in the pre-cursor to SEALs, the UDT) won a defamation lawsuit against deceased former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, author of American Sniper to the tune of $1.8 million. In the book, Chris Kyle, claimed to have punched ‘Scruff-face’, later identified by Kyle on both the The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel and The Opie and Anthony radio show as Jesse Ventura, in a SEAL bar in California after Ventura said some nasty things.
To continue reading: Truth, Justice and the Curious Case of Chris Kyle