A federal judge who oversaw billionaire Elon Musk’s lawsuit against a non-profit has recused himself from the case, court documents entered on Tuesday indicate.
Court documents did not explain why Judge Pittman, a Trump appointee, recused himself, but federal guidelines state that a judge should “disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” or if “he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.”
The LawsuitThe lawsuit (pdf) by X alleges that Media Matters published “intentionally deceptive” reports curated by manipulating X’s algorithms, intended to hurt X’s business interests.
In statements published last week, several global companies confirmed that they were pausing ads on X, including IBM, Comcast/NBCUniversal, Lions Gate Entertainment, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Disney. Following its report, Media Matters published a list of companies joining the boycott.
“The end result was a feed precision-designed by Media Matters for a single purpose: to produce side-by-side ad/content placements that it could screenshot in an effort to alienate advertisers,” the lawyers argue.
An X executive previously told The Epoch Times that the platform isn’t “intentionally placing a brand actively next to this type of content, nor is a brand actively trying to support this type of content with an ad placement.”
Instead, the executive said that ads “follow the people on X.”
“In this case, the Media Matters researcher has its own user handle, and they are then actively looking for this content—that’s how user targeting works,” the executive said. “Groups like Media Matters aggressively search for posts on X and then go to the accounts, and if they see an ad, Media Matters researchers keep hitting refresh to capture as many brands as possible.”
The lawsuit asks the court to order Media Matters to “immediately delete, take down, or otherwise remove” the article and requests unspecified monetary damages.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence,” Media Matters President Angelo Carusone said in a recent statement to media outlets on Mr. Musk’s lawsuit. “Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”
Separately, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote on Nov. 20 that his office is opening an investigation into Media Matters for “potential fraudulent activity.”