This case is principally a defamation action based on the publication of an article by journalist Mark Warren on Esquire Magazine’s Politics Blog. The article was posted one day after the release of a book entitled “Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to Be President,” written by Jerome Corsi and published by Joseph Farah’s WND Books. Farah’s website, WorldNetDaily, announced the book launch with the headline, “It’s out! The book that proves Obama’s ineligible: Today’s the day Corsi is unleashed to tell all about that ‘birth certificate’” (emphasis in original). Approximately three weeks earlier, President Obama had released his long-form birth certificate showing that he was born in Hawaii. Warren’s article was entitled “BREAKING: Jerome Corsi’s Birther Book Pulled from Shelves!” (emphasis in original). It stated, in part: “In a stunning development one day after the release of [the Corsi book], [Farah] has announced plans to recall and pulp the entire 200,000 first printing run of the book, as well as announcing an offer to refund the purchase price to anyone who has already bought . . . the book.” Approximately ninety minutes later, Esquire published an “update” on its blog “for those who didn’t figure it out,” that Warren’s article was “satire”; the “update” clarified that the article was untrue and referenced other “serious” Esquire articles on the birth certificate issue. Farah observed the same day that he thought the blog post was a “poorly executed parody.” Also that day, Warren told The Daily Caller that he had no regrets about publishing the fictitious article and expressed his negative view of the book’s author; his statements were published on The Daily Caller website that day and the following day.
Farah and Corsi filed suit for compensatory and punitive damages alleging defamation, false light, interference with business relations, invasion of privacy, and violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(A) and (B). Esquire for all defendants moved to dismiss on several grounds, and the district court dismissed the complaint. Farah and Corsi appeal, focusing in their brief principally on the dismissal under the D.C. Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“Anti-SLAPP”) Act, D.C. Code § 16-5501 et. seq., and dismissal of the Lanham Act claim. Upon de novo review, we hold that the complaint was properly dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim because the blog post was fully protected political satire and the “update” and Warren’s statements are protected opinion. The complaint also fails to state a claim for violation of the Lanham Act. Accordingly, we affirm the dismissal of the complaint.