Jason Miller, a strategic operative in the Trump political machinery, found his reputation at the crosshairs when he filed a lawsuit against the Gizmodo Media Group and a Splinter News reporter. This was not just another lawsuit; it was a high-stakes defamation battle pegged at a whopping $100 million.
Miller, for those unfamiliar with him, played pivotal roles in both of President Donald Trump’s campaigns in 2016 and 2020. The Splinter News report of 2018, which was rooted in court documents, accused Miller of surreptitiously administering an abortion pill to a woman he had reportedly impregnated.
Amidst his high-profile political role, Jason Miller’s personal life faced significant scrutiny and controversy. Engulfed in a contentious custody battle with former Trump advisor Arlene ‘AJ’ Delgado, Miller’s alleged past actions came to light in stark detail.
Delgado alleged that in 2012, while Miller was still married to his wife Kelly and had a four-year-old daughter, he had visited Rachel’s Gentleman’s Club in Orlando accompanying clients from a consulting company he was affiliated with. During this visit, Miller reportedly met a dancer, leading to an alleged sexual relationship which culminated in her pregnancy.
The Splinter Report: Delving into the Allegations Against Jason Miller
In 2018, Splinter News published a report that would reverberate through political circles and the wider media landscape. The core of this report was rooted in court documents and aimed a damning spotlight on Jason Miller, a prominent figure closely associated with President Donald Trump.
The Heart of the Allegation
The most explosive claim in the Splinter report was that Miller had surreptitiously administered an abortion pill to a woman he had allegedly impregnated. This wasn’t a tale of mutual agreement or even simple negligence; instead, the account painted a picture of deception. The woman, unidentified in the report, was handed a smoothie that she was unaware contained the pill. Unbeknownst to her, she consumed it, leading to severe health complications. She suffered extensive blood loss, which caused her to be hospitalized for two days, and she tragically lost the baby. It was suggested that the abortion pill might have reacted adversely with potential street drugs in her system.
Origins and Implications
This unsettling narrative didn’t spontaneously appear. It found its genesis in the halls of a Miami family court, where Miller was embroiled in a custody battle with a former Trump campaign spokesperson, Arlene Delgado. Their affair had led to the birth of a son in July 2017. But Delgado’s allegations, as reported by Splinter, extended beyond their personal relationship. She claimed that before their affair, Miller, while married to his current wife, Kelly, had met a dancer during a visit to Rachel’s Gentleman’s Club in Orlando in 2012. This liaison allegedly led to the dancer’s pregnancy and subsequently to the deeply troubling incident with the smoothie.
Reactions and Repercussions
The Splinter report’s revelations quickly became a hot topic, gaining traction among various news outlets. It raised numerous concerns, from personal ethics to potential criminal actions. Miller’s response was swift and categorical. He vehemently denied the accusations, labeling them as not only false but also defamatory. His reputation was on the line, and the weight of the public’s judgment was palpable.
Adding to the firestorm, Miller faced professional consequences. Following the surfacing of these allegations, he stepped down from his role as a CNN commentator, a position that had amplified his influence in political dialogues. His departure from CNN was not only a blow to his career but also served as a testament to the gravity of the accusations against him.
The Splinter Lawsuit: A Legal Deep Dive
When Splinter News, under Gizmodo Media Group, published a story in September 2018 authored by Katherine Krueger detailing allegations against Jason Miller, the impact was immediate.
Miller faced accusations that he had allegedly slipped an abortion pill into a woman’s smoothie, leading to her hospitalization and the loss of the pregnancy. These claims stemmed from court documents in a Miami family court custody battle between Miller and former Trump advisor Arlene ‘AJ’ Delgado.
Miller, strongly refuting the claims, sought legal recourse against the media entity responsible for the report. In response to the Splinter article, he filed a defamation lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages from Gizmodo Media Group and Krueger. Miller’s representation, led by attorney Shane Vogt, labeled the allegations against Miller as “indisputably false.” They asserted that the story not only maligned Miller’s character but was an unfounded attempt to tarnish his reputation further.
However, the initial phase of the lawsuit did not favor Miller.
Miami-based U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga rejected the lawsuit, providing Gizmodo and Krueger with a preliminary victory. Altonaga’s ruling was rooted in the application of the “fair report privilege,” a provision that allows journalists to report on official proceedings or records even if the information they convey is defamatory, so long as the report is fair and accurate.
Determined to challenge the ruling, Miller’s legal team brought the case to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Here, the central point of contention revolved around whether the “fair report privilege” applied since there were questions regarding the court document’s sealed status when Splinter News accessed and reported on it. The matter was intricate as it involved the application of New York’s fair report privilege law to documents from a Florida custody proceeding.
In the appeal, references were made to past legal precedents such as the case of Shiles v. News Syndicate Co. This case was significant as it set the parameters for the “fair report privilege,” and the interpretations of this case would be pivotal for Miller’s appeal.
However, in a unanimous decision, the 11th Circuit rejected Miller’s attempt to resurrect his lawsuit. The panel, comprising U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan (an Obama appointee) and U.S. Circuit Judges Barbara Lagoa and Andrew Brasher (both Trump appointees), upheld the District Court’s decision. They found that the New York fair report privilege law could indeed be applied to the publication of information, even if it was filed and sealed in a Florida custody proceeding. They also determined that the dispute over whether the document was sealed when Splinter accessed it was non-material to the privilege’s application.
The lawsuit’s result sparked discussions on journalistic freedom, the boundaries of reporting, and the complexities surrounding legal protections for media entities.
While the case closed in favor of Gizmodo and Krueger, the ramifications of the lawsuit, its impact on the individuals involved, and the broader media landscape are significant.
The Bigger Picture
The lawsuit and its subsequent appeal did not merely represent an individual’s attempt to salvage his reputation. It brought into sharp focus the delineation between the freedom of the press and the protection of personal reputations. The court’s decision to uphold the “fair report privilege” underscored the essential role that journalism plays in a democracy, even if the reported facts are uncomfortable or damaging to individuals.
- Gardner, Eriq. “Gizmodo Beats Jason Miller Defamation Lawsuit Over ‘Abortion Pill’ Story.” The Hollywood Reporter. August 28, 2019. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/gizmodo-beats-jason-miller-defamation-lawsuit-abortion-pill-story-1235101/.
- Gerstein, Josh. “Trump adviser Miller seeks to revive libel suit over abortion pill claim.” Politico. August 14, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/14/trump-adviser-libel-suit-abortion-pill-claim-395305/.
- Goggin, Kayla. “Trump Adviser Can’t Sue Over Abortion Pill Story, Panel Rules.” Courthouse News Service. April 16, 2021. https://www.courthousenews.com/trump-adviser-cant-sue-over-abortion-pill-story-panel-rules/.
- Krueger, Katherine. “Court Docs Allege Ex-Trump Staffer Drugged Woman He Got Pregnant With ‘Abortion Pill’ [UPDATED].” Splinter News. September 21, 2018. https://splinternews.com/court-docs-allege-ex-trump-staffer-drugged-woman-he-got-1829233105.
- Meyer, Ken. “Former Trump Staffer Jason Miller Has Lost Defamation Lawsuit Over Abortion Pill Story.” Mediaite. August 28, 2019. https://www.mediaite.com/tv/former-trump-staffer-jason-miller-has-lost-defamation-lawsuit-over-abortion-pill-story/.
- Moore, Hannah. “Former senior Trump aide Jason Miller steps down as political commentator on CNN following claims he ‘slipped an abortion pill into the smoothie of a stripper he got pregnant’.” Daily Mail. September 22, 2018. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6197771/Former-senior-Trump-aide-Jason-Miller-drugged-woman-got-pregnant-abortion-pill.html.