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Stanford’s Courtney Douglas Publishes Lies About Anti-Jihad Author – Refuses To Retract Even When They’re Proven False

Written by:

Published on: November 13, 2018

Stanford’s student paper, the Stanford Daily, has accused me of publishing students’ private information, thereby endangering them, when actually all I did was respond to published, publicly available articles by Stanford students. But when confronted, Stanford Daily’s editor, Courtney Douglas, refuses to retract, and even told more lies about me in an email to my lawyer.

This story is about how academic and journalistic standards have so degenerated today that at one of the nation’s top universities, the student paper feels free to publish outright lies, and refuses to retract even when they’re proven false. That is no surprise given how CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the rest have in recent years been unmasked as propaganda arms for the hard-Left with no interest whatsoever in truth or accuracy — and Courtney Douglas is being groomed for one of the top positions in the corrupt and dishonest corporation. She will fit in well. She has already learned that she can tell any lie about someone she hates, and that to do so is “journalism.”

On October 26, my legal counsel, Paul Hoffman of Hoffman Legal Corporation, sent this via email and regular mail to Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President of Stanford; Hannah Knowles, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Daily; Ann Grimes, Faculty and Staff Director of the Stanford Daily; Benedict Y. Hur, Legal Director of the Stanford Daily; and Justin Wilck, Staff Writer for the Stanford Daily:

Re:      Defamatory statements regarding Robert Spencer

This firm represents Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch, a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation (“Jihad Watch”) regarding the defamatory claim that the Stanford Daily recently published about Mr. Spencer in its October 10, 2018, article by Justin Wilck entitled “Change my mind: SCR’s only concern with violence is how to use it”. Without any due diligence, Mr. Wilck wrote the following false statement about Mr. Spencer: “Did SCR care last November whenRobert Spencer published students‘ personal information and his followers sent them threatening emails?” (Emphasis added.)

There is no truth to the false accusation that Mr. Spencer doxxed anyone at Stanford or elsewhere. First, the article that Mr. Wilck links to falsely states: “On his blog Spencer named students, posted photos and videos of them, and referred to them as ‘fascists.’” This is completely false and Mr. Wilck either knew that this was false or was reckless in referring to this false statement. Mr. Spencer did not publish any students’ personal information himself. He merely responded to signed articles by Stanford students who put their own names on the articles. What is Mr. Spencer supposed to do? Refer to “the article by ________”?

As the first appearing comment to that article states: “If students write to criticize a given speaker (by name) and sign their names to the criticism, why can’t the speaker write a criticism of the students’ initial criticism and name the students directly in that criticism? After all, the students initially made public their views on the speaker and identified themselves as authors of the criticism. Doesn’t that make these students–who are, after all, adults entering into a public debate–subject to criticism themselves, by name?”

Mere perusal of the article and the above comment should have alerted any reader that, perhaps, the claim that Spencer was doxxing students was not true. Instead, Mr. Wilck either intentionally or, at best, recklessly assumed that Mr. Spencer was doing something improper, which he was not. Accordingly, Mr. Wilck and the Stanford Daily should have fact-checked this reckless and libelous statements before publishing it.

Second, Robert Spencer did not instruct or encourage anyone to send threatening emails to any Stanford students. The claim that Mr. Spencer’s “followers” sent such emails is an attempt to tarnish Mr. Spencer without any proof whatsoever. Mr. Spencer has never agitated for violence, never condoned it, and has never approved of it. Nor is there any evidence that Mr. Spencer has ever done so. It is therefore grossly unfair to attribute any “threatening emails” to Mr. Spencer in any way by claiming that “his followers” did it. How does Mr. Wilck know that? What proof does he have?

Very few people have done as much as Robert Spencer to expose the ongoing oppression of Muslim women, Jews, gays, and other minorities in Middle Eastern countries, which should have been self-evident to Mr. Wilck and the Stanford Daily from news stories demonstrating large-scale murder and repression of Muslims by ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. Mr. Spencer’s research and exposure of the abuse of minority groups at the hands of extremist elements in Muslim countries should be a legitimate part of any dialogue about extremism.

Mr. Wilck’s utter disregard of Mr. Spencer’s long history of work on behalf of persecuted minorities is reckless, and appears to be driven by political malice.

By falsely attributing “threatening emails” to Mr. Spencer and “his followers”, Mr. Wilck and the Stanford Daily are guilty of the very kind of rhetoric which they claim contributes to politically-motivated violence, are damaging their own and the University’s reputations, and are publishing false, defamatory accusations that exposes them to substantial legal liability.

Robert Spencer hereby demands that Mr. Wilck and the Stanford Daily immediately apologize, remove the offending article from the Stanford Daily=s website, and publish a retraction of the false statement they have made about Robert Spencer doxxing students and contributing to “threatening emails”.

Although he would prefer to resolve this matter on an amicable basis, Mr. Spencer reserves the right to exercise all civil remedies to limit any damage to his reputation resulting from this continuing violation of his rights.

Further dissemination of such pernicious misinformation on the Stanford Daily’s website will also demonstrate a malicious intent and will support the imposition of punitive damages against the Stanford Daily and Mr. Wilck personally.

Sincerely yours,


Paul A. Hoffman,
Individual Rights Foundation affiliate counsel

On November 6, Courtney Douglas, Stanford Daily’s new editor-in-chief, responded:

Mr. Hoffman,

The Stanford Daily has received your correspondence on behalf of Mr. Spencer. Simply put, the statements Mr. Spencer takes issue with in Mr. Wilck’s piece are neither false nor libelous. It is true that over the last year, Mr. Spencer repeatedly posted students’ personal information — names, Snapchat usernames, Facebook profile hyperlinks and more— on Jihad Watch. It is also true that in the aftermath of those postings, followers of Mr. Spencer’s blog sent threatening emails to such students. The remainder of the letter references statements made in other publications for which The Daily bears no legal responsibility.

Regardless of the claims made in your letter, the Op-Ed nowhere states that Mr. Spencer “doxxed” anyone, nor does it state that Mr. Spencer encouraged his followers to threaten anyone. If you are looking for falsity, you will find it in your own letter, not in our piece.

We have removed the phrase “last November” from the sentence to reflect that this dynamic is not specific to Mr. Spencer’s campus visit. Beyond this change, we will not modify the passage, nor will we retract the piece.

Courtney Douglas
Stanford Daily Editor in Chief

Those claims about what I had posted at Jihad Watch about Stanford students were false. So on the same day, November 6, Hoffman responded, addressing his email to Benedict Hur and cc’ing Douglas and Wilck:

Dear Mr. Hur:

Courtney Douglas, the editor in chief of the Stanford Daily, has written the email below to me.  Since you are the Legal Director for the Stanford Daily and a lawyer, I would prefer to communicate with you, unless you authorize me to communicate solely with her.

Contrary to Ms. Douglas’ claim, Mr. Spencer has not published any Snapchat usernames or Facebook profile hyperlinks.  This is flat out false.  Any names that Mr. Spencer used were in response to the students themselves publishing their own namesin the articles or blogs he was responding to.  That is not using personal information.  That is legitimately responding to a blog or post.  It was false and defamatory for Mr. Wilck and the Stanford Daily to claim that Mr. Spencer “published students’ personal information”.  Please see the links below and my comments thereto.  These are all of Mr. Spencer’s posts.

Please show me where you think Mr. Spencer published any students’ personal information.  I challenge you and your clients to show me even one instance of this happening.  As shown below, you are unable to do so because such things never happened.  Ms. Douglas have provided me no evidence or links proving Mr. Spencer wrong on this.  Unless you can do so, the quoted statement above by Mr. Wilck and the Stanford Daily remains false and defamatory and must retracted.


This one is where someone may be telling that a Snapchat username was published, but as you can see, Mr. Spencer picked up a YAF article and video. The fellow published his video on Snapchat, and YAF picked it up from there. You’ll notice, that the student is unnamed in the YAF article and in Mr. Spencer’s comments on it, and his Snapchat username is not mentioned, contrary to Douglas’ claim.


Once again, you see that the fellow is not named (nor does Mr. Spencer know his name), and his Snapchat username is not included (nor does Mr. Spencer know it or ever had access to it).  Mr. Spencer mentions the names of four students in this post. You can see that they affixed their names to the Stanford Daily article to which Mr. Spencer was responding.


Where did Mr. Spencer get this student’s name? She signed her name to her piece in the Stanford Review article.


Where did Mr. Spencer get this student’s name? She signed her name to her piece in the Stanford Daily article.


Mr. Spencer did get this one from Facebook, as you can see. But it contains no student names or Facebook profile hyperlinks.


Where did Mr. Spencer get this student’s name? She signed her name to her piece in the Stanford Daily article.


Where did Mr. Spencer get this student’s name? He signed his name to his piece in the Stanford Daily article.


Where did Mr. Spencer get this student’s name? She signed her name to her piece in the Stanford Daily article.


There is a screenshot from Daoud’s Facebook page here, in which he threatens Jewish students. This was published by the College Republicans, and became national news. It is not a case of Mr. Spencer publishing someone’s hitherto unknown Facebook profile. Nor did Mr. Spencer include a link.

As shown above, there are no Snapchat usernames, nor Facebook profile hyperlinks.  Ms. Douglas’ statement otherwise is false.  I challenge any of you to show me even one instance of this happening.  Unless you can do so, I will expect the offending phrase above, that Mr. Spencer “published students’ personal information”, to be retracted.  I will wait to hear from you on this.

Paul A. Hoffman, Attorney At Law
Hoffman Legal Corporation

On November 10, Courtney Douglas responded:

Mr. Hoffman,

The Daily has received your correspondence. I stand by my prior statements, and we will not make further changes to this piece.

Courtney Douglas
Stanford Daily Editor in Chief

If Courtney Douglas has any evidence for her claim, I am challenging her again here and now to present it. So Courtney Douglas, unless she can produce my publication of Stanford students’ Snapchat usernames and Facebook profile hyperlinks, and she can’t, stands exposed as a liar, who has no acquaintance with actual journalism, much less with basic human decency. Salon, the Los Angeles Times, and MSNBC are probably knocking on her door right now with job offers.

Article posted with permission from Robert Spencer

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