Golfer Daly Sues ‘Florida Times-Union’ for Defamation

By: E&P Staff

John Daly, one of the most popular golfers on the PGA Tour, has sued The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) for defamation over a column that appeared during the Players Championship in March. The article, written by columnist Mike Freeman–formerly of The New York Times–brought up Daly’s troubled past, including allegations of domestic violence.

Freeman, the newspaper?s Web site, Jacksonville.com, and the newspaper?s parent company, Morris Publishing Group, were also named in the suit.

Freeman’s column said that Daly has been “accused of smacking women around” and that he has “Thug Life qualifications” and “a rap sheet that would make R. Jay Soward look like a Backstreet Boy.” It also said Daly had ?a former wife indicted for laundering illegal drug profits.?

Daly?s current wife pleaded guilty to a federal money laundering charge in December and is appealing her sentence.

On July 15, The Times-Union published a note explaining that Daly?s lawyer disputed sections of the column. It then said that Daly was charged with domestic disturbance involving his then-wife in 1992, pled to harassment and was placed on probation in 1993. The substance abuse to which the column referred was in relation to Daly?s alcohol abuse, the note clarified.

“It’s regrettable that Mr. Daly has taken this step,” Times-Union editor Patrick Yack told the paper Friday. “Mike Freeman is a fine journalist. We stand by his work and his column.” Freeman, a high-profile sports columnist at The New York Times, left that paper in 2004 to come to Florida.

The last of nine counts in the suit said the Times-Union was negligent when it hired Freeman. Before Freeman came to the Times-Union, he admitted that he falsely said on a job application to another paper that he graduated from the University of Delaware. The lawsuit claims the Times-Union knew Freeman “had a propensity to make false statements” and should have never hired him.

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