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Kyle wrote that “the guys were getting upset,” so he walked over and asked Ventura to “cool it,” explaining that his group was in mourning.
“You deserve to lose a few,” Kyle alleged Ventura told him. “Then he bowed up as if to belt me.” Kyle claims he recommended that he and Ventura separate and “go on our way” but Ventura “bowed up” again. “This time he swung.
“I laid him out,” Kyle wrote. “Tables flew. Stuff happened. Scruff Face ended up on the floor. I left. Quickly. I have no way of knowing for sure, but rumor has it he showed up [at a SEALs] graduation with a black eye.”
Suit follows talk shows
On Jan. 4, 2012, while promoting the book on a radio call-in show on Sirius Satellite Radio, Kyle said, “Scruff Face” was his pseudonym for Ventura. Kyle named Ventura again the next day in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox television.
On Jan. 23, 2012, Ventura sued Kyle, claiming that a Google search found “more than 5,300,000 results, including news articles, videos and blogs that repeat the defamatory statements and accusations.” The suit said it seriously injured his reputation and undermined Ventura’s “future opportunities as a political candidate, political communicator, author, speaker, television host and personality.”
About a year later, on Feb. 2, 2013, Kyle was killed at a shooting range in Texas by a 25-year-old former Marine allegedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder whom Kyle was trying to mentor.
Ventura continued the lawsuit against Taya Kyle, who oversaw her husband’s estate.
“This is a bizarre situation, given that the author is no longer living,” Jane Kirtley, an attorney and Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, wrote in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “Truth or falsity by itself is not the only issue. Ventura must prove Kyle knew he was writing a lie, or acted recklessly in writing his account.”
Kyle gave a deposition before his death that is expected to be played at the trial.
Ventura’s suit “breaks the cardinal rule of politics and public affairs,” said University of Minnesota Prof. Lawrence Jacobs, “by dragging out an embarrassing episode.”
Jacobs, who has followed Ventura’s career as director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the U’s Humphrey Institute, said the former governor often attempts things “almost certain to fail or just plain without a reasonable chance of success.’’
“But I have also learned the lesson not to count Jesse out,” Jacobs said. “He is a magician, and whether it is politics, business or his latest TV career, he has consistently surprised us.”
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224