Gavin Newsom uses pro-life woman's tears-of-joy face over Roe's end as face of misery to promote abortion in campaign ad

Under personal injury and torts law, they would probably call this "false light" reporting.

According to Campus Reform:

For the second time, California Governor Gavin Newsom is under fire for misrepresenting a pro-life student in a pro-abortion video released by the Office of the Governor. 

In a Jan. 21 tweet, Gov. Newsom posted the pro-abortion, anti-GOP video.

"Our basic rights are being stripped away. It's not just reproductive rights. The @GOP are fighting to take away fundamental freedoms — the freedom of speech. To vote. To live without gun violence," Newsom's tweet reads. 

Lee University student Macy Petty, the victim of Newsom's political ad, is portrayed as a crying pro-abortion protestor the day of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, as the words "I would say panic is the primary reaction" are spoken.

Although Petty was emotional the day Roe was overturned, the true reason she was shedding tears was different than what is portrayed in the video.

"[Newsom is] manipulating my image to encourage the killing of innocent children. That is EXTREMELY harmful to who I am both in character and in image," Petty told Campus Reform. 


What kind of an ass would use a pro-life woman's picture in an ad, portraying her tears of joy at the scrapping of Roe v. Wade, as the leftist bawlings of misery over abortion's end, all to sell more abortion to the public?

Here's one of the ads (there are two), and it's still up on Twitter:

Does Newsom think people aren't going to notice this?  Does he think he's above basic libel law, and can engage in the "rape of will," so to speak, of another American, putting phony words in her mouth, just because he wants to make a campaign ad?

It's amazing what Newsom thinks he can get away with.  Here's the young woman's response:

According to Campus Reform, Petty has paired up with an NGO called the California Family Council to challenge this use of her face in the ad, and right now they are calling for the removal of the picture and an apology.  That certainly lets Newsom off easy, as anyone can make a mistake in the creation of an ad, while replacing Petty's picture with a bawling leftist is easy stuff for a professional video editor to do.

But for some reason they won't do it, and they even repeated the error in a second ad — almost as if they wanted to cause her more distress.  Or because they were profiting from it politically and wanted to keep the profits flowing.

This smells of "lawsuit," and while there are fine distinctions on who's a public figure and the license of government officials exempting them from lawsuits in some instances, it also looks like a classic definition of at least "false light" reporting, or possibly the even harder "defamation" element of First Amendment and personal injury law.

According to FindLaw, here's the actual definition of false light reporting:

In a false light claim, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant published some information about the plaintiff.
  • The information must portray the plaintiff in a false or misleading light.
  • The information is highly offensive or embarrassing to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities.
  • The defendant must have published the information with reckless disregard for its offensiveness.

A false light claim is usually easier to bring than a defamation claim.

Take, for example, a newspaper article about the issue of child molestation in certain churches. If the editor includes a photograph of an innocent priest who has not been accused of (or otherwise associated with) child molestation, the newspaper may be liable for false light. This is the case because including the photograph implies that the priest is involved in child molestation. In a defamation action, the newspaper would simply assert that no statement was actually made about the photographed priest and child molestation.

As you can probably tell, false light is a powerful cause of action for a plaintiff because it allows for a complete and total assessment of published information and the context in which such information is placed. A great deal of commentary that is likely to cause injury merely implies false statement. It does not need to cause injury directly. It may do so by implication alone.

When I was at Columbia Journalism School, I remember how the great Floyd Abrams taught us in First Amendment law class that even something like a media outlet claiming that a woman was pregnant when she was not pregnant could be actionable under the "false light" clause.

Portraying someone as pro-choice and sticking her in an ad to sell abortion to the public is a bit worse than claiming someone's pregnant who's not pregnant. 

In Petty's interview with Campus Reform, she uses the term "EXTREMELY harmful" in the headline, which sounds like a legal term, so perhaps she's issuing a legal warning shot to the clown in the California governor's chair to be prepared for a lawsuit. 

All the Newsom team needs to do is yank the ad, put a different picture in it, and make a little apology.  That they don't sounds like a coming legal problem for them, yet they don't seem to care.  Maybe there is a legal clause they can use that exempts them from allegations of defamatory or false light harm, or maybe Newsom feels that putting the taxpayers on the hook for whatever payout she gets in court is not his problem.

Whatever it is, it's unethical as heck and tells us a lot about Newsom's political character.  They don't respect people whose views differ in any way from their own awful perspectives.  They just keep running the dishonest ads.

Image: Twitter screen shot.

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