Carl Greene Sues Inquirer and Daily News

Remember him? The ex-PHA chief comes out of nowhere and goes after papers for defamation

Just when you thought it was safe to think that former Philadelphia Housing Authority executive director Carl Greene was out of our hair for good, he’s filed suit against Philadelphia Media Network, owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

You may remember that earlier this year, a federal judge tossed out Greene’s defamation suit against then-PHA chairman and former mayor John Street, ruling that Street enjoyed immunity for comments he made about Greene (“serial sexual harasser,” for instance) to the public and press thanks to the fact that Street made said comments “in his official capacity,” according to the ruling.

In Greene’s latest suit, filed on Friday in Common Pleas Court, he accuses the two newspapers of mounting a campaign to ruin his reputation, beginning with August 2010 pieces about his personal financial problems, continuing with the coverage of the sexual harassment accusations against him and his termination, right up through the Inquirer‘s August 3, 2011 article, “Carl R. Greene: Gone, but far from forgotten.”

The suit makes the case that the struggling company, which had filed for bankruptcy in 2009, needed a big story to sell papers and that they found it in Greene: “In a desperate attempt to make the newspapers relevant and attractive to auction bidders and to generate much needed readership and revenue, the Inquirer and Daily News set their sights on Carl R. Greene.” In all, Greene counts 246 articles about him during the relevant time period.

The complaint contains many examples of instances in which the newspapers allegedly “repeated false, misleading and inaccurate characterizations of information fed to them by Street and others,” which they used to accuse Greene of “mismanaging PHA and its budget, misusing federal money, and engaging in criminal misconduct in office.” At one amusing point in the complaint, Greene also accuses the Inquirer‘s editorial board of “ridiculing the cultural art of belly dancing,” referring to a 2006 event for which Greene’s staff hired belly dancers.

Reached this morning on his cell phone, Philadelphia Media Network spokesman Mark Block said he was unaware of the suit and issued a “no comment.”