A former KCNR radio host whose program was canceled in January after he called for the public execution of A News Café publisher Doni Chamberlain lost a defamation lawsuit he filed against Chamberlain and this writer in Shasta County Superior Court’s small claims division on Monday.
Former KCNR radio host Matt Nimmo sued me, as well as Chamberlain, because I wrote the story about the death threats he made toward A News Cafe’s publisher on the Jan. 15 broadcast of “Liberty Unabashed,” his now-canceled program. The story was published on Jan. 17. The next day, KCNR owner Carl Bott told A News Café he removed all 63 episodes of Liberty Unabashed and informed Nimmo his show was permanently canceled.
During a 4-minute rant on the hour-long Jan. 15 episode of Liberty Unabashed, Nimmo called for Chamberlain and other people who supported federal and state COVID-19 mandates to be publicly tried and executed “under the Nuremberg Code.” He mentioned Chamberlain by name three times and suggested various methods for killing her, including shooting her, hanging her, and dragging her behind a car.
Nimmo, who during the day-long trial was admonished by Judge John R. Berglund at least a half-dozen times for interrupting, was uncharacteristically silent as the judge read the final verdict, which found we had not defamed Nimmo, and that the canceled radio host’s death threats had inflicted emotional distress upon Chamberlain as claimed in our countersuit.
“I believe that crosses the line, especially when the person is named,” Berglund said about the death threats. “I believe it’s outrageous conduct beyond decency.”
The court ordered Nimmo to pay Chamberlain $755. Nimmo bolted from the courtroom without comment as the proceeding ended.
That was in considerable contrast to the Nimmo who began the day in court confident he could persuade Judge Berglund that Doni and I should be tried and executed under the Nuremberg Code for supporting vaccine mandates which Nimmo falsely claims have killed millions of people.
A stout 46-year-old of medium height in a navy suit with a broad face, balding pate, and a ginger chin curtain flowing to the knot in his maroon tie, Nimmo fancies himself a “student of history and psychological warfare.”
Neither Chamberlain nor I were aware of Nimmo’s existence before he issued the death threats in January, so we were somewhat surprised when Nimmo, sitting adjacent to me as we faced the judge, began by telling the court, “I’ve spent the last 10 years going out of my way to avoid them. I know what they do.”
Apparently, avoiding Doni and me and whatever it is we do include filing a defamation lawsuit in small claims court against us last month, asking for the maximum $10,000 in damages.
Here’s the gist of Nimmo’s complaint:
“On Jan. 17th, 2023, R.V. Scheide posted on anewscafe.com run by D. Chamberlain clamoring for the useful idiot mob to harass the station advertisers to cancel my show. R.V. Scheide went on to post on KCNR’s Facebook page, ‘For the record, the host, Matt Nimmo, called for A News Café publisher Doni Chamberlain to be publicly executed by dragging her behind a car. Thanks for canceling him.’ Not what I said at all.”
That is pretty much what he said, as we shall soon see.
In small claims court, Berglund serves as both judge and jury, and in our case, he methodically proceeded along the jury guidelines for defamation cases as he questioned first plaintiff Nimmo, and then after lunch defendants Chamberlain and me.
Nimmo told the judge that the well-documented threats he made were not in fact threats, they were “observations” based upon his own historical research. Therefore, I had supposedly lied by calling them threats.
“I’m calling for these people to be tried and executed,” Nimmo told the judge. “If you understood history, in the end, they’re going to be eaten. Crimes of passion happen all the time.”
Berglund’s eyes widened slightly at Nimmo’s use of the word ‘eaten.’ He asked the canceled radio host if he had any formal training or education in history. Nimmo said he did not.
“Crimes of passion happen all the time,” Nimmo repeated, apparently oblivious to the fact that calls for violence like the ones he made against Chamberlain can be the precursors to such crimes, a phenomenon known as stochastic terrorism, in which extremist provocateurs avoid responsibility for domestic terrorists who go on shooting rampages at their suggestion.
Judge Berglund proceeded to probe exactly what Nimmo means when he says things like, “Doni Chamberlain should be tried under the Nuremberg Code and then publicly executed.”
“You want the journalists to be prosecuted and executed?” the judge asked.
“By the rule of the law!” Nimmo agreed.
I had one up on the judge, as I had already deciphered Nimmo’s Nuremberg Code. Nimmo falsely equates A News Café’s coverage of the pandemic, which was supportive of California’s public health mandates and critical of individuals and institutions that thwarted them, with the Hitler regime’s use of concentration camp inmates and prisoners of war in medical experiments. That includes the mass sterilizations and euthanizations of individuals deemed unfit to reproduce or too old for society to support.
During the Nuremberg Trials held by the Allied powers in occupied Germany immediately after World War II, the Nuremberg Code on medical ethics was used to determine which Nazi physicians had violated ethical norms and committed war crimes. Seven Nazi doctors were hanged, and more than a dozen were imprisoned. The codes have gone on to become an important element in international human rights law.
Seeming to do his best to not appear astonished, Judge Berglund listened on as Nimmo agreed that Chamberlain and I are literally akin to serial killers, dictators, and mass-murdering Nazis.
In the story I published in January, I said Nimmo was obviously obsessed with QAnon, the Trump-era conspiracy theory that posits our government is run by a global cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles, since he claimed on his radio program that teachers are grooming students to give “blow jobs”.
Nimmo told the judge that was false; he wasn’t into QAnon. The judge asked him if he thought the government was run by pedophiles.
Nimmo replied that he believed President Joe Biden was a pedophile, recalling a viral photograph of our touchy-feely president laying hands on a young girl’s head. Prodded by the judge, Nimmo said there were probably a lot of pedophiles in federal and state government positions.
“It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s history,” Nimmo insisted.
During his January radio rant, Nimmo repeatedly used the phrase “you get what you deserve!” with exactly the same cadence that Joaquin Phoenix used in the climactic scene of the 2019 film Joker.
“What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash?” Joker asks talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro). “You get what you fucking deserve!”
Joker punctuates his punch line by shooting Murray in the chest. Nimmo punctuated his rant by pounding on the table. “You get what you fucking deserve!” was a popular right-wing meme in the wake of the film, and I figured Nimmo must have seen it a few too many times. But in court, Nimmo claimed he’d never seen the film, which again made me a liar in Nimmo’s view.
“There are people dying in this community as a result of the lies these people are telling,” Nimmo said, adding that the judge would surely see the truth of his claim if he was fair and let him present all of his evidence.
“If I agree with you, does that mean I’m being fair?” the judge asked.
Nimmo’s accusations that we’d caused him economic damage seemed spurious. Although he produced 63 episodes of Liberty Unabashed during his two years at the KCNR, he wasn’t paid for his work. Instead, Nimmo paid the station $150 per month for two Sunday 8-to-9 a.m. timeslots. He earned no money from advertising. While he claimed he’d planned to sell Liberty Unabashed merchandise such as T-shirts, he never carried the plan out.
“This has never been about the money,” said the guy who attempted to sue A News Café for $10,000. “It has never been about financial gain. It was about the truth.”
During the lunch break, I perused a video Nimmo posted to the internet that morning. Nimmo planned to present the more than hour-long video in court after lunch. As I fast-forwarded through the video, scenes from Nazi Germany and the Holocaust zipped by, including footage of Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels.
In Nimmo’s twisted Nuremberg Code calculus, Chamberlain and I are situated somewhere between Goebbels and Hitler’s physician, Dr. Karl Brandt.
As the afternoon session began, the judge warned Nimmo that the material on his video needed to be relevant to his case. For example, a disclaimer from Liberty Unabashed denouncing violence would be relevant, statements from Holocaust survivors would not be relevant.
“No one can convince you otherwise,” the judge said regarding Nimmo’s arcane beliefs. “How long will it take you to convince me that vaccinating people is the same as Adolf Hitler?”
After Nimmo had played just a few short clips, the judge had had enough.
“I’m 100 percent certain that what you’re trying to submit is not relevant,” Judge Berglund concluded.
Nimmo has a certain knack for self-incrimination. Possessing no disclaimer from his canceled show, he instead played an audio file from the Jan. 20 episode of Carl and Linda Bott’s “Free Fire Radio” program during which Linda Bott states, without naming names, that they had canceled Nimmo’s program because the Jan. 15 episode crossed the line and was perhaps even “somewhat dangerous talk.”
Earlier this month, Nimmo took KCNR owner Carl Bott to small claims court seeking potential lost income and the return of his intellectual property—the 63 episodes of “Liberty Unabashed” he recorded during the past two years. Bott returned the episodes to Nimmo after the complaint was filed, so the intellectual property claim was moot. Since Nimmo earned no discernable income from the program, Judge Berglund ruled that Bott didn’t owe the former host any money.
Judge Berglund came to a similar conclusion in our case as he steadily whittled down Nimmo’s complaint. Nimmo suffered no economic damages since the show made no money. Judge Berglund didn’t buy Nimmo’s claim that calling for Chamberlain’s public trial and execution according to the Nuremberg Code was an “observation” and not a threat. Ultimately, the judge allowed Nimmo to claim four possible causes of defamation:
- My post on KCNR’s Facebook page claiming Nimmo “called for A News Café publisher Doni Chamberlain to be publicly executed by dragging her behind a car.”
- My claim in the story that Nimmo was obsessed with the QAnon conspiracy theory.
- My claim that Nimmo may have seen Joker one too many times.
- Doni Chamberlain’s claim in our countersuit that Nimmo’s death threats had scared the living daylights out of her.
When asked, I told the judge my post on KCNR’s webpage was paraphrased and true, and therefore not defamatory. I said Nimmo used Chamberlain’s name three times in a 4-minute rant, once in close proximity to one of his preferred methods for killing her, “dragging her behind a car.”
The judge ultimately agreed with me.
Next, he asked about my claim that Nimmo was “obviously obsessed with the QAnon conspiracy theory.” I told him it was an educated guess based on Nimmo’s references during his Jan. 15 Liberty Unabashed episode to pedophile teachers grooming students. I noted that I’ve since come to believe that Nimmo may have adopted this tack from the anti-LGBTQ hate group Moms for Liberty, which is firmly established in Shasta County.
The judge said the passage was well within the realm of legitimate journalistic opinion writing.
The judge kind of dinged me on the Joker reference. He was familiar with the film and got the joke, but wondered whether I was insulting Nimmo’s mental state. It was a quite the opposite. The genius of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker is his legitimization of homicidal mass violence as a means for the oppressed underclasses to depose their corporate overlords.
I sensed the judge might be a film buff, but decided to let Joker slide, and just sort of smiled and shrugged. I suppose someone could take being compared to Joker as an insult. I didn’t say that out loud of course. The judge ruled that the passage was well within the bounds of protected speech once again.
My questions from the judge were relatively easy since they referred directly to things that I’d written. I like to think I’m pretty careful with my words, especially the words published in A News Café.
But Nimmo audaciously claimed my colleague Doni Chamberlain was lying in our countersuit memorandum when she claimed to be terrified by his radio threats. Our countersuit’s memo states:
“As a longtime journalist, defendant Chamberlain is no stranger to threats, even from relatively intimidating characters, so it is significant that this statement caused her to be so concerned that she filed a restraining order, where she did not do so in other situations. Defendant Chamberlain experienced unease, anxiety, and fear. Particularly when Plaintiff Nimmo filed suit, revealing that he possessed her home address, defendant Chamberlain felt particular distress regarding what Plaintiff Nimmo or another bad actor motivated by his words or actions may do to her in the future.”
Judge Berglund took Chamberlain’s claims with the utmost seriousness, following the steps a jury would take in a civil trial for the intentional infliction of distress, asking the publisher a long series of questions designed to ferret out just how much she had been economically, physically and emotionally damaged by Nimmo’s death threats.
The ANC publisher was put in a difficult position. As a female journalist with 30 years of experience, Chamberlain suffers from, as she called it, “the curse of being too tough.” Did she manifest any physical or mental problems after the threats that required professional treatment? No, of course not, and if she did, she probably wouldn’t admit it.
She did file a restraining order against Nimmo, as well as report KCNR to the FCC, and report Nimmo to the Redding Police Department. The latter agency told Chamberlain that Nimmo’s violent rhetoric didn’t rise to the level of a criminal infraction because although Nimmo said he believed she deserved to die in multiple ways, Nimmo didn’t specifically say he would personally commit those acts upon Chamberlain.
Chamberlain couldn’t put a monetary value on the economic, physical, and mental distress she’s suffered since the broadcast. To do so might be an indication of weakness. She has installed more security cameras at her residence, is contemplating getting a permit to carry a firearm, and has received bids on an expensive security gate. That was it.
For his part, Nimmo continued to claim Chamberlain was lying.
“I don’t believe her, she’s known in this community as a pit bull,” he said in rebuttal. He once again proclaimed, “Crimes of passion happen all the time.”
For our closing argument, I noted that I was once a co-host for a KCNR radio program, and was familiar with the station’s pay-to-play scheme. I knew before I wrote the January article that Nimmo was not making a dime as a KCNR radio host. I listened to the entire one-hour program twice. There was no violence-disclaimer on the broadcast. I argued that most people would consider Nimmo’s mention of Chamberlain’s name three times in a short time span with references to several ways to kill her constituted a direct threat.
“I’ve been a journalist for 35 years and a media critic for most of that time and I’ve never seen anything like it,” I told the judge. “Carl Bott did the right thing. Now the rest of us can get some sleep.”
Judge Berglund retired to his chambers briefly then returned to announce his decision. He began by warning us there would be no further discussion, and that often in small claims court, both parties wind up dissatisfied with the results.
He then denied Nimmo’s defamation claims one by one. My QAnon and Joker comments were protected speech. My KCNR Facebook post suggesting he’d called for Chamberlain to be dragged behind a car was deemed not false. Nimmo provided no evidence that comments made in a countersuit memorandum can be litigated in small claims court, negating his final defamation claim.
As far as his claim that A News Café had interfered with the verbal contract he had with Carl Bott to conduct a radio show, Nimmo’s playing of the Jan. 20 Free Fire Radio broadcast in which Linda Bott said the unnamed radio host (Nimmo) had been canceled because of “completely inappropriate, somewhat dangerous talk” turned out to be his undoing.
“From the clip from the radio station it would appear Mr. Nimmo was fired for the things he said on the air,” the judge said. “The court rules for the defendants.”
In our countersuit, we alleged that Nimmo defamed Chamberlain by falsely labeling her as a socialist, a Nazi, a totalitarian, the publisher of the “communist cockroach paper” A News Café. The judge, who hinted that he’s quite aware of the free speech debates taking place in our ongoing culture wars, advised us to buck up.
“In 2023, people are expected to endure being called cockroaches, communists, and socialists,” he said. “The courts would be full all the time if we prosecuted this.”
But when it came to Chamberlain’s claim that Nimmo had intentionally inflicted her with emotional distress, the judge ruled that Nimmo’s violent rhetoric was outrageous and unacceptable to most people.
“I believe the average person would find these remarks are intolerable in our civil society,” the judge said. “I believe she did suffer severe emotional distress. The judgment is for defendant Doni Chamberlain and against plaintiff Matt Nimmo.”
The $755 Nimmo was ordered to pay Chamberlain was based on the cost of security upgrades she’s made to her home and the $75 court fee paid to file the countersuit. It was far from the $10,000 in punitive damages we’d asked for to discourage other people from filing similar lawsuits, but it turns out punitive damages aren’t allowed in small claims court.
So ends the saga of the canceled radio host. But don’t think that’s the last we’ll hear from Matt Nimmo. Crimes of passion happen all the time, and he says he’s about to debut a new podcast; a reprise of Liberty Unabashed, on a website to be named shortly.