FROM THE SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 63CV-13-164]
HONORABLE GRISHAM PHILLIPS, JUDGE
& Taylor Law Firm, P.A., by: Andrew M. Taylor and Tasha
C. Taylor, for appellant.
Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC, by: John E. Tull III and
Everett C. (Clark) Tucker IV, for appellees.
Gladwin and Glover, JJ., agree.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
Greenberg sued Horizon Arkansas Publications, Inc., et al.
(sometimes referred to as appellees) for
defamation. Greenberg's lawsuit
arose out of a series of editorials published in 2010 in the
Benton Courier and written by Kristal Kuykendall who
served as editor of the paper at the time. The Saline County
Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of appellees,
and Greenberg appealed. We affirm.
Greenberg served as a state representative in the Arkansas
General Assembly from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, Greenberg was a
candidate in the Republican primary for Arkansas State Senate
District 22, a portion of which is located in Saline County.
Greenberg's opponent was former state representative
the course of the election, the Benton Courier
published a series of editorials written by Kristal
Kuykendall about Greenberg, Hutchinson, and their respective
campaigns. The editorials were published on March 7, 2010
(First Editorial), March 28, 2010 (Second Editorial), April
19, 2010 (Third Editorial), and April 26, 2010 (Fourth
First Editorial addressed two topics pertinent to Greenberg.
Kuykendall began by engaging in a general discussion of what
she considered to be dishonest political advertising. She
mentioned a television advertisement by Greenberg in which he
quoted the Benton Courier: "You should
appreciate having legislators like Dan Greenberg on your
side." This quote had been written in a 2009 editorial
praising Greenberg's work for open government. Kuykendall
believed that the use of the quote made it appear that the
newspaper was endorsing Greenberg when it was not. She also
disagreed with the use of this quote because it was written
by a previous editor of the Benton Courier. Later in
the editorial, Kuykendall wrote that she had previously
"swor[n] on the spot that [Greenberg would] never have
[her] support as a candidate for anything" as a result
of a comment he was said to have made about access to
healthcare. Kuykendall explained that, "basically, when
someone questioned whether the nation's health care
system was broken because not everyone has access to health
care, Greenberg's response was something like: Of course
everyone in America has access to health care; all they have
to do is go to the emergency room."
with the First Editorial, Greenberg requested and was granted
a meeting with Kuykendall and her publisher, Bryan Bloom.
Greenberg agreed to modify the television advertisement to
state, "[Y]ou should appreciate having legislators like
Dan Greenberg on your side because of his work for open
government." Kuykendall indicated in an email to
Greenberg that the revisions adequately addressed their
thereafter, Kuykendall wrote the Second Editorial. In that
editorial, she favorably addressed Greenberg's modified
television advertisement and his meeting with the Benton
Courier staff that led to the modification. She praised
Greenberg for "paying attention to the small-town local
paper" and "for being flexible and for striving for
the most honest political campaign commercial possible in
this situation." She also raised an issue reported to
her by one of Greenberg's constituents-that Greenberg
promised to have the mailboxes of the elderly moved closer to
their front doors and, according to his constituent, broke
the promise. Further, Kuykendall praised Greenberg's
volunteerism at a community-care clinic.
case hinges on Kuykendall's Third Editorial, in which
Kuykendall addressed four issues relating to Greenberg.
First, she discussed polls that showed Greenberg trailing
Hutchinson in their state-senate race. Secondly, she noted
that Greenberg was using the same address for both his
legislative and his campaign offices and mentioned that this
"would appear to be a violation of Arkansas campaign
ethics." Next, she wrote that Greenberg had listed as
supporters on campaign materials individuals who were either
neutral or supported Hutchinson. Lastly, she characterized
Greenberg's allegation in a campaign mailer that
Hutchinson lobbied for new taxes as "hatefully
the publication of the Third Editorial, Greenberg requested
to publish a responsive guest column in the Benton
Courier, and appellees agreed to the request.
Greenberg's column generally rebutted Kuykendall's
criticisms of him and challenged her journalistic methods.
the Benton Courier published the Fourth Editorial,
which presented no new information but Kuykendall wrote,
"I stand firmly behind every fact I presented in [the
Third Editorial] column. I'm ...