Grand Junction newspaper threatens to sue state senator who called it ‘fake news’

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State Sen. Ray Scott

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Daily Sentinel newspaper in Grand Junction is threatening to sue State Sen. Ray Scott after he called the paper “fake news.”

Publisher Jay Seaton said in an editorial over the weekend the tweet from the senator is “a false character assassination that can’t go unchallenged.”

Scott called the newspaper “fake” in a tweet after it criticized him for canceling an open records hearing to discuss a new bill aimed at increasing transparency.

As of Tuesday, it is unclear if the newspaper will go through with the lawsuit.

“I do intend to file after a short cooling-off period,” Seaton said.

Seaton, a former litigation attorney in Kansas City, Mo., also said the newspaper has lost subscribers based off Scott’s comments so there are damages involved.

“Sen. Scott’s statement that the Daily Sentinel is ‘fake news’ was, one, false, two, knowingly false, three, intended to harm and diminish me and this organization in order to characterize our editorial as actually a deception to our readers,” Seaton said.

“Not only does he attempt to undermine the role of the press under the First Amendment, it’s textbook defamation.”

When asked if Seaton grew upset at Scott after President Donald Trump’s “fake news” comments, he said, “I suspect Sen. Scott was taking a page from President Trump’s playbook, but I’m not focused on anything the president has said. I am solely focused on Sen. Scott’s statement that The Daily Sentinel is ‘fake news.'”

Scott has not responded. Scott said in a tweet “bring it on” in response to the weekend column.

According to officials within the Republican caucus at the Capitol, Scott wants to discuss the issue publicly but has been advised to wait because of pending litigation.

It was also emphasized by officials that the open records bill has not been killed by Scott but instead delayed after a series of concerns were raised by local and state officials.

FOX31 Denver and Channel 2 employees were scheduled to testify in support of the open records bill at the committee hearing, which was canceled.