Fort Worth U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman recused himself from a lawsuit filed by X (formerly Twitter) against Media Matters for America and the case was reassigned Tuesday to Judge Reed O’Connor, with the suit to be heard in a federal court in Fort Worth, according to court documents.
The suit, filed in the Fort Worth division of federal court in the Northern District of Texas on Nov. 20, alleges the nonprofit media company “knowingly and maliciously” created side-by-side images in a report to depict advertisers’ posts on X appearing next to Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist content. The suit alleges Media Matters created these images to drive advertisers away from the platform and to “destroy” X.
Media Matters has said that the company stands by its reporting and expects to prevail in court, according to a report by the Associated Press.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence,” the nonprofit’s president, Angelo Carusone, said in a prepared statement.
Pittman’s recusal was filed Tuesday, requesting the suit to be assigned to another judge. According to notes entered in court records the same day, the suit was reassigned to O’Connor, who is also based in Fort Worth.
In addition to the images Media Matters allegedly created with malicious intent, the lawsuit says X and its predecessor, Twitter, have “long been the target of Media Matters.”
The media company published over 20 articles in November that threatened X’s relationship with massive multinational advertisers and global publishers, including Amazon, eBay, MLB, the New York Times, Samsung, among many others, the suit says.
The articles were “disparaging” to X and its CEO Elon Musk, according to the suit.
As a result of the images in the Media Matters report, several companies withdrew ads from X, including Apple, Comcast, NBC Universal and IBM, some of X’s largest advertisers, the suit states.
Eric Hananoki, a writer for Media Matters, is also a defendant named in the suit.
Documents say the court has personal jurisdiction over Media Matters as the campaign against X was directed at advertisers who are located in, have a significant presence in, or transact business in Texas.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced his office is investigating Media Matters for possible fraudulent activity related to the report by Media Matters, according to a Nov. 20 news release.