14:09 GMT +316 October 2019
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    'Not for Money, It's to Send Message to Fake News' - Arpaio Case Against CNN

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    Former Phoenix-area Sheriff Joe Arpaio has filed a defamation lawsuit seeking $300 million against three news outlets, including CNN, The Huffington Post, and Rolling Stone. The lawsuit focuses on CNN, which Arpaio claimed took no effort to correct a statement by an anchor-man who stated that Arpaio was a “convicted felon”.

    Radio Sputnik spoke to Joe Arpaio, who said that he just wants to fight back against fake news through the lawsuit.

    Sputnik: How did you get the courage to take on these big media outlets?

    Joe Arpaio: I don't know about courage, I've been in law enforcement for 55 years, serving as head of the US drug enforcement in Turkey, in the Middle East, Mexico, I can go on and on. I've been a fighter throughout my 55 years of enforcing laws and working in foreign countries, so I'm just doing what I feel is right to serve the people of Maricopa County, which I've been doing for 24 years, the longest-serving sheriff in the history of Maricopa. I've taken on corruption and other controversial issues. I didn't run for sheriff to get a salary, I was 60 years old when I ran for sheriff; so as far as the media is concerned, it's a love-hate relationship.

    It's very interesting that they call me, throughout the years dealing with the media, that I am a publicity hound, and yet they always call me, just like you've called me, and I respond, I always talk to the media. I have an open door policy, I don't run a CIA operation, but I think it's about time — enough is enough! What they have been doing to me recently, certain elements of the news media. So I'm fighting back through the lawsuit process; that's the only way I can fight back right now.

    Sputnik: How has the case been moving on so far?

    Joe Arpaio: I have a great lawyer who's also a friend — Larry Klayman — he runs Freedom Watch, to go after the judicial system and the media; so I feel very comfortable, but you never know when you get to court how the judges will react. But I'm trying to do the best I can, I don't talk too much about it, because as you can understand it's still in the court process, but I'm giving it a shot; it's not really not for money, it is to send a message out to this fake news [that] we have in this country that something has to be done in the journalistic system.

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    So I'm doing it, I'm no hero doing it, I'm just doing what I feel is right — not just for me, [but] for many, many other elected officials, and as they go after our president, whom I have endorsed and supported from day one, since July 2015. I'm really concerned how they go after President Trump also, but we'll see what happens.

    Sputnik: Mr Arpaio, you've said that the filing of the case also sends a message to news organisations that they need to fact-check their stories and that it is much more important for you than getting money. Do you think that one person's statement will be enough in a case of this magnitude?

    Joe Arpaio: Well I don't know about one statement. When you call me a convicted felon, that's very serious, because you lose your voting rights, can't carry a gun, that's much different than a little misdemeanour, which is the same charge as a barking dog when you look at the sentence. So when they say that I'm a convicted felon, that I want to prison, an ex-felon, I can go on and on, that's pretty serious defamation. So I'm not taking that lightly, I'm just about fed up with this fake news that papers and TV are giving out against me when it's not true.

    So they have to be held responsible, maybe this will help in some way, they will check the facts and not just copy what other media says. It's very easy to report something that the media has read in another outlet, but they better stop doing this, because this is not correct, it is not right, and as I said, I'm willing to take this on and see what happens.

    Sputnik: In what way have the inaccurate statements damaged your reputation and your chances of running for the 2020 US Senate seat formerly held by John McCain?

    Joe Arpaio: When you have an election going on, when I was running for my 7th term as sheriff and during the process of the court, and I'm not going to get into this biased federal judge, but during the process Obama's Justice Department said that they're going to charge me with contempt of court and this is when the people were voting. Then when you talk about George Soros, [who] pumped in over $2-3 million to get me defeated at the same time, it was difficult to win my general election.

    So here it continues on, where they keep going after me, accusing me, as I say, of being convicted in court and this just continues, it's continuing where they give out the wrong information. As far as running for office again, I don't know if I'm going to run, but this sure doesn't help when people around the country think I'm a convicted felon. So it has to be rectified.

    It actually is too late anyway, the word is already out, people think of me as a convicted felon; so I don't know really how to stop that, but I'll do what I can through the court system.

    Sputnik: There have been some reports where you have been accused of playing the victim card; what is your response to that?

    Joe Arpaio: I don't even know what that means — the victim? Well maybe I am a victim; I'm not playing the victim card, I'm trying to put the message out to everybody that you better be accurate and not accuse people of something that's not true, and I'm talking especially to news media.

    News media is very powerful, I've always worked with the news media — continuously, my whole career, even when I was head of the Federal Drug Enforcement around the world; I always deal with the news media, Sometimes I don't like what they say — that's okay. For example, I let the news media come all the time to my jails, come to my tent city, which is very controversial. They go in there, they talk to the inmates, I don't care, doesn't bother me — I have nothing to hide. Probably as they call me a "publicity hound", the media calls me a "publicity hound" because I talk to them; I'm not like other politicians who are afraid to talk to the media.

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    I'm talking to you. I don't know Sputnik, but I hear that you're pretty fair, I've dealt with you in the past. So people will say: "Why are you talking to Sputnik? Why have you been on thousands of interviews in foreign countries? They can't do nothing for your election", but I talk to everybody. I just had Ireland in here last week, they keep coming from foreign countries and I talk to them. That's a bad rap, that I'm a publicity hound.

    Sputnik: If you are to continue your career as a politician, how do you plan on cooperating with media outlets; how do you think they will portray you?

    Joe Arpaio: How they are portraying me right now, if they're going to not report me. During my last campaign for Senate, they avoided me, because they know I'm very popular with the people and every time they mention me, it kind of motivates the people that support me, so it's the secret treatment. So let's see how they treat me now. I know that I was very, very close with Fox News throughout my 24 years but something interesting — in the past year, they avoided me, and I know all their reporters.

    You know what, we've got social networks now, and I'm using social networks and it's good returns, so I don't need the media, there're other ways to get the stories out. So if they want to play the game, let them play it. Now I'm sure that 80% of the time it will be a negative report, they're sure not going to say something nice about me. I'm talking about the mainstream media. So we'll see how it works, but I don't care.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Joe Arpaio and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.


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