When Army vet Sgt. Peter Damon announced he was suing Michael Moore for $85 million for using his image in Fahrenheit 9/11, I dug around and noticed Damon's complaint had some gaping holes. The main problem was that Damon claimed appearing in Fahrenheit 9/11 had made him look critical of the war and President Bush, and that had defamed his character and made him a propagandist for the enemy. If that was the kind of impression that Damon didn't want to give, it didn't explain why he'd appeared with Sen. Ted Kennedy at an anti-war speech.
I called Damon's lawyer last week to ask if his client had actually appeared at the Kennedy speech; he said he didn't know. But Newsweek's Jeannette Walls put in another call, and (perhaps because hearing "Newsweek" on your phone line is scarier than hearing "Reason") the lawyer flipped.
When called for comment, Damon's lawyer, Dennis Lynch, said, "If you claim that [Damon] attended an anti-war speech, that would be inaccurate." Lynch requested a video of the event; when offered an email transcript instead, the lawyer accused The Scoop of being "unprofessional" and "biased" before hanging up. He hung up on or declined to accept subsequent calls for clarification.
Walls has another piece of evidence against Damon's suit. When he appeared in an anti-Moore documentary (one of two), he didn't seem nearly as bothered about F9/11. "That's the reason we go off to fight," Damon said, "to defend his right to make a movie."
The point here isn't to defend Moore or pile on Damon. But it's good to remain skeptical of flashy, expensive lawsuits announced against celebrities with a cable TV media blitz.