Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is famously thin-skinned: to insult him in even the most light-hearted way is to risk being sued by him. But there is a purpose to his constant stream of legal actions, the latest being filed just this week against MSNBC's Rachel Maddow for "smearing" him on her television show. It attaches a potentially significant price to any criticism or mockery of him—and makes everyone think twice before doing so.
Nunes, who is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, says Maddow has repeatedly targeted him with defamatory statements that accuse him of obstruction of justice and treason. Nunes said Maddow has also called for him to lose his committee post and be stripped of his security clearances.
Nunes has been busy in the last few years suing media and critics he thinks unfairly throw shade at him. In addition to suits against CNN, the Washington Post, Esquire and McClatchy — which owns the largest newspaper in his home district — Nunes sued Twitter over two anonymous accounts that mock him under the handles: "Devin Nunes' Cow" and "Devin Nunes' Mom."