What is a "stuntsuit"? It is a lawsuit whose only real purpose is to generate publicity and garner media exposure for one's cause.
So the word "stuntsuit" can readily apply to the silly lawsuit that was filed over a decade ago in 2002 in Oregon by contingency lawyer Jeff Anderson against the Vatican, wildly claiming that the Vatican is somehow the direct "employer" of all of the world's 412,000 Catholic priests and is somehow directly and legally responsible for any and all misconduct committed by them.
Anderson's filing of his "stuntsuit" in 2002 predictably amassed tremendous mainstream media attention. But after years of wasted time and effort, and after a federal judge's dismissal of the matter a year ago, Anderson quietly dismissed his frivolous appeal just last week.
This time, however, the mainstream media did not even take notice.
Third time is not a charm
In truth, the suit dismissed last week by Anderson in Oregon was the third such suit filed by Anderson against the Vatican "to disintegrate in the face of legal and factual challenge."
At the heart of Anderson's ridiculous suits are "factual misstatements and fallacious syllogisms that [have] misled the public for years," said Jeffrey S. Lena, counsel for the Vatican. Most recently:
"This case was based on a couple of simple and erroneous ideas about the Catholic Church. First, that all priests are controlled by the Holy See (the Vatican) and second that the Holy See receives information about the activities of all priests and makes specific decisions, either directly or 'by and through' dioceses and religious orders …
"The problem with the plaintiff's theory is fairly straightforward: this is not how the Catholic Church works. In reality, priests are under the control of their local superiors … and the Holy See does not receive and maintain information on all the world's priests or on all the sexual abuse cases relating to priests throughout the world."
And the mainstream media goes quiet
Anderson – who is also a close ally, prolific fundraiser, and major donor of the anti-Catholic group SNAP – has now shown a penchant for filing suits that are shown to be meritless in the face of simple facts. In addition to his goofy lawsuits against the Vatican, a recent suit against the Church which invoked the discredited theory of "repressed memory" was expeditiously booted out of the Minnesota Supreme Court just last year, as we reported at the time.
Yet the mainstream media remains notably silent about Anderson's legal antics and theatrics. While the media seems to always uncritically trumpet Anderson's lawsuits when he initially files them, it goes mute when the suits are later quietly dismissed by the courts or by Anderson himself. (Where are you, Laurie Goodstein?)
Whenever it is Anderson versus the Catholic Church, the mainstream media can always be expected to put journalistic standards of truth, balance, and fairness aside and come down firmly in support of the legal stagecraft of Jeff Anderson.