Mancow seeks to have defamation lawsuit tossed, says exposing MacDonald was 'duty'

  • Radio host Mancow Muller, right, is seeking to have a defamation lawsuit filed by Harvest Bible Chapel Founder James MacDonald, shown at left at a men's retreat in Michigan, dismissed from Cook County court. Muller argues exposing MacDonald's true character in early 2019 was the right, ethical and Christian thing to do.

    Radio host Mancow Muller, right, is seeking to have a defamation lawsuit filed by Harvest Bible Chapel Founder James MacDonald, shown at left at a men's retreat in Michigan, dismissed from Cook County court. Muller argues exposing MacDonald's true character in early 2019 was the right, ethical and Christian thing to do. Photo courtesy of Mancow Muller

 
 
Updated 5/16/2020 7:20 PM

WLS radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller wants a defamation and eavesdropping lawsuit brought by Harvest Bible Chapel founder James MacDonald dismissed, arguing the suit is legally insufficient and it was Muller's duty as a Christian and media member to shine a light on MacDonald's true character.

Meanwhile, MacDonald's attorney argues the court papers were filed too late, that they were in excess of the court's page limit, and that Mancow's attorney has a conflict in the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Leaders at the Harvest Bible Chapel, which MacDonald founded in 1988, ousted him in mid-February 2019 after Muller aired several leaked tapes of MacDonald.

The recording included MacDonald making derogatory comments about the editors of Christianity Today and of writer Julie Roys, one of his critics. He also talked about if child pornography could be put on the computer of a Christianity Today editor, according to court documents.

MacDonald sued Muller in December 2019, as well as Cumulus Media Inc., owners of WLS-AM 890, for defamation in connection with Muller's show, citing what was said in broadcasts, a show podcast and in Muller's own podcast in mid-February 2019.

"The suit against Muller, a former friend and defender of the plaintiff, is no more than a vindictive fishing expedition in search of the deepest pockets to relieve the plaintiff of his new financial predicament, as well as an attempt to maintain his lavish lifestyle," argued Mancow's attorney Michael J. Young in Friday's motion to dismiss.

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MacDonald's lawsuit claims that Muller fabricated the bad acts of which he spoke; Muller's motion argues some of the statements were substantially true and MacDonald's arguments are "legally insufficient."

Muller, in an affidavit, also says he learned more about MacDonald between December 2018 and February 2019 as critical articles were published. Muller recalled listening to the tapes after they arrived at his home.

"It was clear to me in that moment, that given MacDonald was a major public figure, and that I was hosting a show on WLS, a news talk radio station, my prior support of MacDonald, the widespread public concern over MacDonald's continued leadership as well as his power and influence in the Christian Community, I needed to air the tape," read part of Muller's affidavit. "As a member of the media, former member of Harvest, and devoted Christian, I felt it was my duty."

Phil Zisook, who is the attorney for MacDonald, said Saturday that Mancow's motion should not be allowed to be submitted.

Zisook said Mancow's lawyer was "several months late" to respond to the lawsuit, the 42-page document exceeded the court's 15-page limit, and Zisook is seeking to have Young disqualified, contending he had a conflict because he also acted as MacDonald's attorney in the past.

The two sides are next due in court on June 12.

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