The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Elon Musk had an affair with Nicole Shanahan, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. And you know who’s not happy about this article? Nicole Shanahan.
And by “not happy” we mean “enlisted legal counsel to inform the Wall Street Journal that Shanahan considers these claims defamatory and will apparently act accordingly.”
‘Make no mistake, any suggestion that Nicole had an affair with Elon Musk is not only an outright lie but also defamatory,’ attorney Bryan Freedman told DailyMail.com in an exclusive statement.
For its part, the paper stands by its story for now even as Musk joined Shanahan in denying the story.
It’s not been a great month for the Wall Street Journal. They said there probably wasn’t 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio moments before the story was confirmed. Then they published a farcical theory about how Musk would actually win the Twitter suit despite all the facts and law. Now they’ve got a story that all the principals say is a lie. Now, those are interested parties but… when one of them lawyers up to talk about defamation it raises the stakes a bit.
For anyone out there taken in by the nonsense Nick Sandmann defamation cases, this is what a defamation case looks like. Because this isn’t an opinion, the WSJ made the factual claim that Shanahan slept with Musk . According to Shanahan this is the publication, to a national audience, of a false statement of fact that injures her reputation.
And the reputational injury is the allegation that she cheated on her husband, not that she romantically touched Musk.
Although… does the idea that someone let Musk touch them expose them to “aversion, contempt, hatred, or induces an unsavory or evil opinion in the minds of a significant number of people in the community” required for a claim of defamation per se?
OK, probably not but… I mean… are we sure?
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.