|By Marino Eccher, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"It's a bar fight, for crying out loud,"
The publishing company wasn't so quick to discard the story, according to documents shown in court. One promotional memo included a clip of Kyle talking about punching the former
DeFelice, who wrote the 2012 book with Kyle and
Kyle wrote in the book that he punched out a celebrity, later identified as Ventura, at a
Ventura says that never happened. He sued Kyle after he was identified as the subject of the story, and continued the lawsuit against Kyle's estate and widow after Kyle was shot to death in 2013 at a
DeFelice testified that he spent more than 100 hours interviewing Kyle and others for the book. A tiny part of that time dealt with the Ventura story, he said.
He said they included it in the book because they wanted to show the range of Kyle's personality. It wasn't an incident "that made Chris look particularly good," DeFelice said.
The book omitted Ventura's name from the story because Kyle didn't want to embarrass anyone, DeFelice said -- as was the case for other people described in the book.
None of the stories in the book was false, DeFelice said.
Did DeFelice trim those parts because he thought they'd make the story easier to verify, Anderson asked?
No, the author said -- it was simply part of refining the story in the writing process.
Did Kyle "evolve" the story to make himself look better -- for instance, by saying Ventura swung at him first so it didn't look like he'd assaulted a man in his mid-50s?
He didn't, DeFelice said.
"Chris still looks like kind of a jerk, to be honest," he said.
Anderson asked if DeFelice ever checked with
After the Ventura story went public, DeFelice said Kyle was upset by the attention it was getting because he felt it was overshadowing the larger messages. They tried to steer the conversation back to other topics, he said.
Later Thursday morning,
Between thousands of pre-orders and high-profile appearances like
After Kyle first mentioned Ventura in response to a question during a promotional interview on "The Opie &
Defense attorneys played a "Today Show" segment on Kyle. It did not mention the Ventura story, focusing instead on the action elements of his story and his relationship with his wife Taya.
Rosenblum wasn't excited about the attention the Ventura story attracted, she said -- and didn't believe it boosted sales. She said she didn't talk with Kyle about the story when it first came out on "Opie & Anthony" because she didn't think it was a big deal.
Emails showed it caught the attention of the publishing company at least a few times. In one exchange,
"This is priceless," he wrote.
Rosenblum responded by saying Kyle had been asked to go back on the "Fox & Friends" talk show, and was asked specifically tell the story.
"HOT, hot, hot!" she wrote.
In testimony Thursday, she said she was referring to the popularity on the book as a whole.
In another document -- a memo Rosenblum sent out to HarperCollins sales staff with promotional links -- Rosenblum included a video labeled "clip of Chris, talking about punching out
A separate email exchange that didn't include Rosenblum discussed an online advertising campaign that would include "Jesse Ventura" as a keyword. Rosenblum said she was never aware of that plan and doesn't believe it was ever put into action.
She said she did not.
He asked if she was claiming the Ventura story had nothing to do with the book's success because that's what the publishing company wanted her to say. U.S. District Judge
Hubbard, the editor, also testified Thursday. He said the effect of the Ventura story on the book's success was "negligible" -- and may have even hurt it after Ventura claimed the story wasn't true.
"In a nonfiction book, the credibility of the author is paramount," Hubbard said.
He described "American Sniper" as the most successful book he's ever worked on by far, with 1.5 million copies sold across all editions.
One page of a draft of the book showed a note on the Ventura story about having been warned about a lawsuit. In
Another draft page showed a note from Hubbard. He liked the Ventura story, he said. If it was witnessed by fellow SEALs who could corroborate against a libel claim, he said, "can we mention who it was?"
Thursday's testimony concluded with video from the deposition of
He didn't see the punch or personally hear Ventura make disparaging remarks, he said. Jones admitted his memory was hazy because he'd been drinking that night, like many of his colleagues.
Jones said he'd seen Ventura -- a former member of the Navy Underwater Demolition Team, a unit that later merged with the SEALs -- at other military events. He didn't try to meet him at McP's, he said, because he's not into celebrities and didn't think he'd get much out of the encounter.
"I had the observation," Jones said, "that he talks a lot and doesn't listen."
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