Back in April, when police were still trying to track down leads about the Boston marathon bombing suspects, the NY Post helpfully blew up a photo from the attack on their front page, highlighting Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi and labeling them "Bag Men." Of course, it turned out that those two men were just runners watching the marathon, and not terrorists. Also, one of them was a high school student. So finally today, Barhoum and Zaimi are suing the Post for defamation.
Barhoum, a 16-year-old Revere High School student, and Zaimi, a part-time college student from Malden who works full time, accused the Post of libel, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. According to the Boston Globe, their suit reads: "The front page would lead a reasonable reader to believe that plaintiffs had bombs in their bags, that they were involved in causing the Boston Marathon bombing,” according to the court complaint. The lawsuit asserts the newspaper subjected the friends to “scorn, hatred, ridicule, or contempt in the minds of a considerable and respectable segment of the community.”
In the Post's original story, they claimed that the photos of the two young men were being circulated by investigators "in an attempt to identify the individuals highlighted therein." There was a pretty strong backlash though when no other outlets ran those photos, but the Post's editor, Col Allan, refused to take blame for the cover: "We stand by our story. The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects."
A few weeks later, Post owner Rupert Murdoch belatedly came to the defense of his newspaper, tweeting: "All NYPost pics were those distributed by FBI. And instantly withdrawn when FBI changed directions." Murdoch did not go into detail about how exactly a newspaper can "instantly withdraw" a front page already published, although perhaps that would have taken more than 140 characters (and harnessing the power of the space-time continuum) to explain.