Bonds Sues over Authors' Steroid Use Charges
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Alex Chadwick.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
I'm Madeleine Brand. Attorneys for San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds are in court today arguing for a restraining order against a new book that says he used steroids. The lawyers aren't arguing with the book's content per se, but how the authors of the book obtained the information. Mark Starr, Newsweek's national sports correspondent, has been reporting on the story. And welcome to the program.
Mr. MARK STARR (Reporter, Newsweek): Glad to be with you.
BRAND: Now, tell us what Barry Bonds is arguing.
Mr. STARR: I don't think Barry Bonds is arguing anything. I don't think his name is actually on the lawsuit. You know, I think he's arguing that these are good headlines for Barry Bonds because in the world of the 10 second soundbite people sees Bonds sues and they thing he's actually suing for liable and challenging the facts of the book. When actually his lawyers are using some obscure California Unfair Competition law to try and, as far as I can tell, skirt the First Amendment issues, and he's not challenging the facts of the book at all.
BRAND: So he's basically saying that the authors of the book obtained this information illegally?
Mr. STARR: I think he's trying to tarnish them with the same brush they tarnished him. I think it's one of these pot calling the kettle issues. I think they're saying these guys are cheats and how dare they call me a cheat. That they got these from grand jury testimony. They have no right to the materials and thus they can't do the book. I think it flies in the face of all First Amendment law, as far as I understand it. I don't claim to be a lawyer. But I think this is more public relations than law.
BRAND: Hmm. Well, the writers say they did not obtain the information illegally, that they got this grand jury testimony perfectly legally.
Mr. STARR: Well, you know, I wouldn't be surprised if that's an object of an investigation. We've seen federal authorities under the current administration investigating how reporters got various information and I wouldn't be surprised to find this is under scrutiny right now. Clearly grand jury testimony isn't meant to be leaked, but it's another thing to be the recipient of an illegal leak.
BRAND: Hmm. Well, Bonds has denied taking steroids, so why doesn't he just file a traditional defamation lawsuit?
Mr. STARR: Because I think he couldn't win it. First of all, he's a public figure and the standards for liable in that kind of suit are very hard to beat. You not only have to prove it's untrue, you have to prove it was written with malicious intent. But, you know, it's a funny thing, when you find these people, I was listening to Ken Griffey, the great outfielder, saying that, you know, he's a friend of Bonds and he'll believe him until he hears from someone who saw him shoot up.
And you know, Bonds suddenly is being held to a standard that we don't require of murder convictions. You know, eyewitness testimony. There's plenty of compelling evidence and I don't think Barry Bonds wants to go in court and challenge it.
BRAND: Mark Starr, Newsweek's national sports correspondent. Thank you.
Mr. STARR: My pleasure.
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