Brett Favre is currently suing Pat McAfee and Shannon Sharpe over their comments on the Mississippi welfare scandal, and specifically, what they said about his alleged involvement in that situation. He’s also suing Mississippi state auditor Shad White. And when Favre’s lawyer Eric Hershmann recently went on the Daily Wire’s Crain & Company podcast, the hosts asked why Favre and Hershmann aren’t also suing Bomani Jones for comments on this situation on his Game Theory HBO show.
Well, Jones has now addressed that himself on his The Right Time podcast (at the 38-minute mark of the March 13 episode). There, he said Game Theory‘s Favre coverage was repeatedly vetted by the HBO legal team. Here’s a transcription of his comments from Jordan Bondurant at Barrett Sports Media:
“I’ve had things to say but I ain’t really had a lot because there’s not much to say,” Jones said. “But number two, let me tell you something about HBO, dawg. They got lawyers, bruh. We had to run that script by so many people. Because we were not going to let this very thing happen.”
…“Why do y’all want them to sue me?!? Like I just can’t believe how stupid you motherf—ers are,” Jones said. “Like you think you can just get sued for saying something? Saying something, that’s it?! And why would you say it out loud? That’s all I’m saying!”
…“It’s because in every meeting when somebody put something in the script or even said ‘Brett Favre stole from poor people,’ we have somebody to pop up and say, ‘Well actually Brett Favre gave the money back and has not been charged with any crime,’” Jones said. “Therefore you cannot say Brett Favre stole.”
There are a few things of note there. It is absolutely notable that Jones and Warner Bros. Discovery have not yet been sued here. And on the corporate front, that extends beyond Jones; the lawsuit against White specifically references things he said on HBO’s Real Sports, and on CNN (both owned by WBD), but does not name those broadcasters as defendants, just White. (Of course, lawsuits can be and are regularly modified in terms of named defendants, but it’s notable that there’s been no tangible action against WBD so far.)
And a solid legal/standards and practices department is absolutely crucial for a media outlet trying to cover controversial or sensitive issues with potential for litigation. And Jones’ comments here are appreciated for illustrating how much review Game Theory‘s coverage of this went through pre-air, and in particular, the elements with Favre of returning the money (after widespread media coverage criticizing him) and of a lack of filed criminal charges. And that helps to speak to why he and HBO have not yet been sued, despite the Crain and Company hosts’ specific questions to Hershmann on that front (which were unusual in their own right, as most media outlets do not tend to suggest on air that lawyers should sue specific other media outlets).
Despite all that, none of this means Jones (seen above on a recent episode of Game Theory) and HBO won’t be sued down the road. Many lawsuits have been filed even with poor chances to prevail. And it’s notable that legal expert Dan Lust told AA’s Michael Grant there’s a “very high burden” for Favre and Hershmann in the cases against McAfee and Sharpe, even if Hershmann told Crain & Company he finds those a “slam dunk.”
And that’s an area where the legal resources of HBO/WBD are perhaps even more helpful. Against smaller outlets, lawsuits or even threatened lawsuits without a high chances of success can be enough to prompt retractions or corrections, but that’s harder to do against a big company with significant legal resources. Still, defending even a lawsuit with a low probability of success takes time and resources, and that can be a drain on even a large company. We’ll see if any lawsuit comes to fruition against Jones and HBO or not.