Tim Eby, a former GM of St. Louis Public Radio, filed a lawsuit Aug. 29 against the station’s licensee, claiming that the station repeated defamatory remarks about him on the air and in online articles.
The suit centers on news articles that STLPR published in 2020 and 2021 about Eby’s departure from the station. The articles referred to allegations made by station staffers that Eby had mismanaged finances and upheld a culture of white supremacy while leading the station. STLPR is owned by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, the defendant named in the lawsuit.
Eby said in the lawsuit that the university removed him from his position in September 2020 and forced him to resign a month after STLPR employees brought attention to what they called a culture of racism at the station. In a Medium post, an anonymous group using the name “STLPR Reporters & Producers of Color” called for changes at the station, including greater diversity among staff and leadership. The group said Eby “chose to uphold white supremacy at the station by remaining complacent with the status quo.”
Eby’s lawsuit cites a STLPR article by Brian Munoz, then a freelance reporter and now a photojournalist and multimedia reporter at the station. In his article, Munoz described and quoted allegations from the Medium article.
The lawsuit says the article “incorporated, summarized and hyperlinked, and republished … false and defamatory statements” from the Medium article. The lawsuit also claims that “STLPR had actual knowledge that the Medium allegations were false: STLPR, its reporters, and its editors knew that white supremacy was not the status quo at the station, and that Tim Eby did not uphold white supremacy.”
An Oct. 1, 2020, article highlighting a consulting contract Eby made with the station also linked to the Medium article and incorporated information that Eby said was false and defamatory.
Another STLPR article from August 2021 about the hiring of current GM Tina Pamintuan said that Eby had been accused of ignoring “problems of systemic racism.” The article referred to and linked to Munoz’s story. The lawsuit alleges that also amounted to defamation.
“STLPR, its reporters and its editors knew that these allegations were false, but published them anyway,” the lawsuit claims. “These false statements were also repeated during the on-air broadcast.”
In addition, the suit says the 2021 article included defamatory claims by mentioning that Eby had been accused of mismanaging the station’s finances.
“Defendant implied that the assertion of financial mismanagement was one of objective fact,” the lawsuit says. “These accusations were false. Plaintiff had never heard such of accusations, but if such accusations did exist, Defendant knew that they were false or acted with reckless disregard in their publication.”
Eby claims in the suit to have “suffered emotional distress as the result of Defendant’s outrageous conduct” and that he had anxiety and depression. The lawsuit adds that “following Defendant’s actions,” Eby “could not find any job for a significant period of time, and when he did, the only jobs available were at a significant reduction in the pay.”
The lawsuit seeks retractions and more than $100,000 for each of the two defamation counts. Eby is seeking a jury trial.
“We disagree with Mr. Eby’s claims and will look forward to further discussion in the courtroom,” a university spokesperson told Current.