Subject of NPR article alleges defamation in lawsuit

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The subject of an NPR article published in March 2017 has sued the network, alleging that defamatory claims made by the network’s journalists “destroyed” his reputation.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in Kansas District Court, musician and multimedia artist William Yeager claims that NPR published “numerous unverified, unsubstantiated, false, and defamatory statements” in the article “The Most Expensive Record Never Sold.” NPR reported that the website Discogs had canceled a record-setting transaction on an album recorded by Yeager that was “likely” posted for sale on the site and purchased by Yeager himself.

The lawsuit also points to NPR Music editor Jacob Ganz’s description of Yeager as “a huckster” and “a charlatan” in an All Things Considered segment. The lawsuit called the remarks “serious allegations, and more befitting for an embezzler and felony criminal, one that has been proven guilty of serious crimes.”

The complaint says that Yeager’s reputation was “destroyed by the publicly funded NPR, which obliterated a 40-year career overnight.”

Yeager is seeking $100 million in compensatory damages, $150 million in punitive damages, and $100 million in special damages, which the lawsuit says he would “funnel” to a charity.

An NPR spokesperson declined to comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly omitted special damages Yeager is seeking. He is seeking $100 million in special damages.

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