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Clooney on Beating the Daily Mail: ‘It’s Fun to Slap The Bad Guys’

“It’s just fun to slap those bad guys every once in a while, knock ‘em around,” George Clooney told Variety Friday about triumphing in his spat with British tabloid the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail and its website MailOnline.com, which has frequently been sued for libel and regularly loses, published an article claiming the mother of Clooney’s fiance objected to their upcoming marriage. It deleted the article and apologized after Clooney wrote an op-ed that was published in USA Today, saying the Mail’s article was demonstrably false.

Clooney, the son of newsman Nick Clooney, has held journalism in high regard (as seen in his film “Good Night, and Good Luck”). So while he says he understands that some tabloids have always made things up, he is concerned about bigger issues than the Daily Mail’s lies about himself or even his family.

Speaking by phone from Lake Como in Italy, Clooney said “I would sit with my friends and we’d just go, ‘So they just sat at a computer and just went, “OK, this is what I’m gonna say today.” I mean, literally, because you just go ‘There isn’t literally an element of truth in this.’ You just laugh, and let it go. I’m used to it after all these years. But the thing that bothers me is how much the Daily Mail is now bleeding into American press and becoming a source for some pretty legitimate newspapers. So that’s the thing that worries me.”

“Those are really bad guys and they do tend to tee off on everybody,” said Clooney. “It’s fun when you can go, ‘Well, this one, I know I have all the facts right.’ Usually the argument is: ‘Hey, we’re not gonna tell you our source,’ and, ‘Prove it.’ And when they actually do it themselves it’s so great. You go, ‘OK, well you obviously just screwed this (up), so I think I can get you now.”

The actor-activist said he’s learned that he has to choose his battles, whether it’s choosing which atrocities in East Africa to spotlight or which lies out of London to object to. “That’s why you pick your fights at a tabloid. Every day they write things that aren’t true, but every once in a while they write something that is actually dangerous to your family, and it’s probably not true. And that’s the one you pick.”

Of his engagement to activist-lawyer-author Amal Alamuddin, Clooney quipped “I’m marrying up.”

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