The Rover faces a baseless lawsuit from a Notre Dame professor
After months of leveling false accusations and fundraising for litigation against the Irish Rover, Notre Dame Professor Tamara Kay has filed a civil suit in the state of Indiana, claiming that two recent Irish Rover articles contained “defamatory and false statements.” Professor Kay’s allegations against the Rover are entirely false. And her lawsuit reflects only the latest stage in a tenured professor’s baseless public campaign against undergraduates at her own university who had the temerity to publish accurate stories about her very public abortion advocacy.
Abortion Advocacy Exposed
Since 2003, the Irish Rover’s mission has been to defend the Catholic faith and honorable traditions of the University of Notre Dame. As such, the Rover unequivocally supports the university’s commitment to the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.
In the October 12, 2022 edition of the Irish Rover, W. Joseph DeReuil, who was then editor-in-chief, reported on Professor Kay’s promotion of abortion access that fall. The report relied upon Kay’s public statements, including her presentation at a university-sponsored lecture, as well as an interview conducted by DeReuil.
Aside from the comments drawn from the interview, the facts reported in DeReuil’s article were already matters of public record. Nonetheless, Professor Kay responded to the article’s publication by backtracking, denying that she had made the statements recorded by the Rover.
The day after DeReuil’s article was published, Professor Kay took shots at the Rover in the course of tweeting about more sympathetic coverage of her abortion advocacy in the student-run magazine Scholastic. She tweeted that, unlike the Rover, Scholastic doesn’t “publish lies.” Professor Kay continued: “Oh, and very important — a fantastic journalist [ ] actually…wait for it… INTERVIEWED ME for the piece and quoted me accurately (unlike the other for which there was absolutely no interview).”
The implication that the Rover had never interviewed Professor Kay is demonstrably false. The Rover has a recording of a conversation in which DeReuil introduces himself as “Joe DeReuil, the editor of the Irish Rover,” before asking Professor Kay questions about her position on abortion.
Hours after the tweets mentioned above, Professor Kay again tweeted about the Rover: “It’s not affiliated with ND, it’s not a ‘student publication,’ it has no journalistic standards, holds no ethics, is run by faculty advisors who promote bigotry & connect students to national orgs that promote hate (see who reposted).”
Then, discrediting her own baseless charges, Professor Kay confessed: “My colleagues gave me the Cliff Notes version [of the article about her advocacy] b/c I don’t read it [the Rover].”
The Rover, for its part, continued to cover this unfolding story. When she spoke about her support for abortion rights to College Democrats on March 7, the Rover reported on the content of her lecture in the following issue.
Kay Prepares to Sue Students
In January, a GoFundMe page was started to benefit Professor Kay and assist with the costs of “retaining legal representation.” At this time, the Irish Rover had not been notified of any potential legal action on Kay’s behalf.
Months later, on April 3, Kay told The Cut that she was “weighing legal action against both the publication [the Irish Rover] and the university [Notre Dame].”
In the Cut article, Professor Kay no longer claimed that “absolutely no interview” had occurred, as she had tweeted on October 13. Mr. DeReuil had informed the Cut reporter that he had proof of their interview. Professor Kay discussed with the reporter her memory of the conversation with Mr. DeReuil, confirming in the process that he had opened by introducing himself.
As The Cut’s article states: “When the event ended, The Irish Rover’s editor-in-chief, W. Joseph DeReuil, approached her [Kay]. ‘He introduced himself and he asked me a couple questions. There was a lot of noise and a ton of people,’ Kay says.”
Yet puzzlingly, Professor Kay repeated her claim that “he did not say that he was interviewing me.”
Kay Files Lawsuit
In the first week of April, DeReuil received from Professor Kay’s lawyer a letter of intent to sue the Rover for defamation. The letter also demanded that the Rover retract the October 12 and March 22 articles so as to “mitigate damages that may be awarded or recovered in this case.”
“An apologize [sic] should also be offered to Dr. Tamara Kay,” the letter added.
Professor Kay filed the defamation suit on May 22. Her complaint alleges defamation in the October 12 article but does not specify any statement or aspect of the article that is false.
The complaint also objected to the brief summary of the October 12 article contained in the March 22 article—a summary that is a commonsense reading of the October 12 article and that aligns with the way Notre Dame administrators themselves interpreted Professor Kay’s messaging. Kay’s complaint also falsely claims that the Rover’s coverage of her presentation to the College Democrats was false or defamatory, as revealed by a recording of the presentation and ensuing question and answer period.
Simply put, the articles discussing Professor Kay’s abortion advocacy were fair and accurate in all respects. The record will confirm this beyond dispute. The Rover will not apologize for just and truthful reporting that helps Our Lady’s University stay true to its Catholic mission. To that end, it has produced important stories for twenty years and will continue to do so, with determination and resolve, Professor Kay’s baseless public campaign and lawsuit notwithstanding.
In Notre Dame,
The 2022–2023 Editorial Staff of the Irish Rover
Photo Credit: Matthew Rice