Legally, Jesse Ventura was entirely correct in his lawsuit against the estate of Chris Kyle, and he surmounted a pretty high barrier in order to win. Yet, what's legal and what's right are entirely different things, and as my old legal history professor at Duquesne University used to say, when they meet it's a happy accident. So yes, the court and the jury were probably in the right.

However...

This is a matter of winning the battle but losing the war. The central objective for Ventura was supposedly to restore his reputation from a slander. Yet the means and the outcome did not do that. While he might have cleared his name from an accusation provoking and losing a bar fight through a really dumb, offensive and punch in the face-worthy statement, he managed to open himself up to new accusations of being a bullying douchebag. These cannot be fought in court, as Ventura's own words and actions are the most compelling evidence.

Further, as a European special forces friend emphasized to me a while back, SEALs are national treasures, a very special community, a brotherhood in which membership is earned, not bought or given. Ventura managed to work his way in, legitimately, and then get himself ostracized decades later, just as legitimately.

So while the original lawsuit was understandable, and from a legal perspective the verdict and damages were correct, he failed to achieve his central victory condition, which was to restore his reputation. Indeed, it is worse off now than it was before Chris Kyle's murder. Likewise, I have to ask, how many people would even know about Kyle's apparent lie without this suit against his estate and his widow?  Pursuing legal action against the estate put the alleged defamation on a lot more radar.

So Jesse, if the phone rings, it's probably King Pyrrhus. He wants his victory back.

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Comment by Don Cooper on August 27, 2014 at 10:51am
Navy Seals are the most talked about secretive organization, which thanks to people like Chris Kyle, god rest his soul, has become less and less effective by these types of books. It seems there have hundreds of Seals in on the Benghazi Incident and the Bin Laden raid. The book was interesting but not as interesting as one read about a sniper in Vietnam, Marine Sniper. Kyle came off as an apologetic assassin, which I don't think was his attention. Seals used to be a specialized secretive organization and if you want to be a cowboy and advertise it by writing books or going on Fox News don't join. There have been a lot of heroic acts performed by men in Iraq and Afghanistan and god knows where else on the globe and not all were Seals. This Seal stuff has got to stop. They put ex-agents in jail for talking about the CIA and destroy their lives. Seals need to be professional and not brag about their service, while other good men are fighting and dying. The irony is that Ventura's lawsuit complained about keeping his reputation out of the public eye, while Kyle who was a member of supposedly secret military unit bragged about it in public. I cannot imagine the amount will be stayed on appeal or the verdict for that matter. The whole thing is absurd. Ventura must be hard up for money.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on August 7, 2014 at 9:36pm

I get the impression that Ventura would not have listened to any advisers anyway.

Comment by Chuang Shyue Chou on August 7, 2014 at 9:19pm

I did read Kyle's book. I did not know it was referring to Ventura. Would Ventura not  have a public relations firm or manager handling his affairs? Would they not have advised him against this course of action?

Comment by Wayne Rotella on August 3, 2014 at 1:54pm

Ego, that's my two cents as to why. Let's face it, to be in the public as much as he used to and for the reasons he was in the lime-light, he has a huge ego.

Comment by Jim Werbaneth on August 3, 2014 at 1:00pm

I wonder too why Ventura didn't negotiate something in which the publisher retracts the offending statement, and then deletes from future editions of the book.  That would present a lower legal hurdle to Ventura, and do a lot more for his reputation than this.

Comment by Greg Blanchett on August 3, 2014 at 12:58pm

I think he had actually started the lawsuit before Chris was killed... even so, after the fact there should have more of a desire to just get a retraction as is now happening, vice losing public opinion by actually winning the case.

Comment by Wayne Rotella on August 3, 2014 at 10:32am

Sad. Most people understand the bravado that comes from military story telling. Read "The Things They Carried" about Vietnam and "Jarhead" about Desert Shield/Storm. Great books in their context. Ventura has done a dis-service here and I do hope his karma is taking note. The real victims in all of this are Kyle's widow and children. Too bad Jesse couldn't finally find some manhood within himself.

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