Brandon Straka is going after the "Left-wing media aggressively" in a lawsuit for their malicious reporting about his presence on Capitol grounds during the January 6 protests. In his first "in a string of lawsuits" he plans to file in the coming months, Straka is suing MSNBC, Chris Hayes, and Ari Melber for "malicious and untruthful reporting." He says he filed the lawsuit for himself and on behalf of other Americans targeted and abandoned by powerful people who neglected to step in and help innocent people. Straka is well known for founding the #WalkAway Campaign when he left the Democrat party after the 2016 election.
Straka happened to be in D.C. because he was asked to participate in a January 5 "Stop the Steal" event. On January 6, he took his video camera to the East side of the Capitol to document the events. He says while events were unfolding that day, he was not fully aware of "the full scope of what occurred on January 6."
Once a Liberal Democrat, Straka became famous after a video he made in 2018 about "walking away" from the Democrat party went viral. He voted for Hillary in 2016, but after the election, it became apparent to him that news reports on Donald Trump were manipulative and slanted. "He came to believe that news outlets conspired to paint Trump as 'the most racist, most homophobic, most horrible person in the world' and made it so 'anybody who supports him is painted as the same.'"
After the 2020 election, Straka joined millions of Americans at the Capitol on January 6. One would never know it from the news reports, but Straka never even entered the Capitol building. Straka was ultimately given "90 days of home detention as part of a three-year probationary sentence" after pleading guilty under duress for "one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct." Straka never entered the Capitol, nor did he incite or perpetrate violence of any kind. It is hard to argue that his sentence was anything other than political.
First in a String of Lawsuits
His December 16 press release and lawsuit explain the truth of what happened that day. Contrary to what Hayes and Melber said in their broadcasts, the press release states:
"Brandon Straka never entered the Capitol on January 6 and was never accused of or charged with any act of violence, vandalism, theft, or destruction."
Straka says he is tired of being maligned and lied about. He believes it is destroying his reputation and relationships with colleagues who may not know what to believe, given how biased the press seems to be. Straka states both Hayes and Melber said things in their broadcasts that are nothing more than "maliciously defamatory rhetoric, and these people need to be held accountable, or they're never going to stop." Hayes misattributed violent speech to Straka, and Melber stated Straka "confessed" to having helped attack Capitol police. Nothing Hayes or Melber reported was true or accurate in any way. Testimony from an FBI agent supports Straka's statement that he never entered the Capitol on January 6.
During his December 16 interview on the Jim Bohannan show, Straka states he will be going after the left-wing media:
"The ways that they've attacked me and the way that they've attacked numerous conservatives, but particularly people who were not violent, who were not destructive on January 6. You know, I'm going to go after people who have labeled media outlets with labeled people insurrectionists. You don't get to call somebody an insurrectionist because they have a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct. That's not a thing. It's maliciousness, defamatory. And these people have to pay for that, and I want to hold them accountable."
Hayes' and Melber's "materially false" statements and reports are detailed in his lawsuit. Both were widely viewed, and many comments indicated a belief that the reporting was factual and accurate. The YouTube channel comments from Hayes' report labeled Straka a "domestic terrorist, an insurrectionist, a seditionist, a traitor. One viewer commented, "Love you, Chris, for your very well-learned journalism, your reporting is AWESOME, you make us understand the facts correctly & truthfully, thank you very much." Millions also saw the same material on Twitter, where Hayes stated Straka participated in a "violent coup attempt."
Hayes Statement/Straka Lawsuit
Melber's October 19, 2022, The Beat with Ari Melber, featuring a Matt Schlapp interview, received 200,000 views. Not only did Melber tell Schlapp that Straka "confessed to being guilty and was found to have been trying to help attack police officers," but many of the comments also parroted the same words. Brandon believes statements like the ones from Melber are potentially damaging to his relationships. "Melber," said Straka, was "poisoning his name to a colleague," and "if I were Matt Schlapp, having someone on air say something like that, I might think maybe I shouldn't invite Brendan Straka to CPAC." Melber's statements were also republished to Melber's 358,900 Twitter followers on the following day.
Ari Melber/Straka Lawsuit
Straka's lawsuit states he "suffered insult, embarrassment, humiliation, mental anguish, injury to his reputation, loss of income, and career damage." Straka has suffered mightily, both personally and professionally, as a result of having been targeted. Straka's popular #WalkAway campaign testimonial videos were all removed from Facebook, the primary virtual location for all of the heartfelt videos. He and all of his team members were also banned. He has stated he is also on the TSA Terror Watchlist.
Straka is asking for $25,000,000 in compensatory damages for his pain and suffering, "damage to his reputation, costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses."