VENTURA TRIAL: Kyle's punch 'showed who he was' - KMSP-TV

American Sniper co-author: Why would anyone buy the book because of a bar fight?

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Jim DeFelice, co-author of late former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's book "American Sniper," testified on Thursday in Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit, wondering why anyone would buy the book because of a bar fight.

The former Minnesota governor says Kyle defamed him by including the story in the book and for widely publicizing it on TV and radio interviews when it was published in January 2012.

More: Former Navy SEAL says he saw the punch

The co-author of “American Sniper,” the man who actually wrote much of the best seller based on Chris Kyle’s own words, stands by the book’s story of Jesse Ventura getting a punch to the face in a California bar in 2006.

And the publicist for the book says she didn’t use the story to push the publicity, in part because she didn’t even realize it was Ventura that book referred to. When Ventura’s name was first brought up in a radio interview, it didn’t even occur to her it was referring to the book at all.

Ventura, suing for defamation, contends that beyond his presence at the bar on the night in question, the rest of story is all a lie used to promote a book and responsible for millions of dollars in sales.

Lawyers for Chris Kyle’s estate did a good job of trying to dispel those claims in court today.

Jim DeFelice, the co-author, testified he first heard about the Ventura story from a friend of Kyle’s while doing research.

“I can totally confirm it happened,” Kevin Lasc is heard in the audio recording made by DeFelice. “You know because I will definitely confirm that because that… that guy is a punk,” referring to Ventura. “But he was talking **** and the next thing I know Chris is out there choking - he’’s choking Ventura out.”

Ventura’s lawyers zeroed in on the word “choking” to point out a huge inconsistency, since the story describes a punch. DeFelice replied that in his research the Navy SEALS seem to use that term to describe any kind of physical confrontation, including fights and hazing rituals.

Asked about the assertion the story drove book sales, DeFelice said “It’s a bar fight for crying out loud, it’s not what the book is about, some idiotic bar fight. Who would buy the book because of a bar fight? It would be asinine.”

On the stand next, Sharyn Rosenblum, the New York City based publicist for HarperCollins, the book’s publishers. She testified she didn’t even realize the book referred to Jesse Ventura, who is nicknamed Scruff Face in the book. She never asked Chris who he it was about because “it didn’t even occur to me. It didn’t stand out.”

Rosenblum testified she never used the story to get interest in interviews with Kyle, and of the roughly 500 stories written about the book, “three or four” made mention of Ventura. Stories about the book in Time magazine and on the Today Show when the book was published in January 2012 didn’t bring it up, nor did a New York Times story several months later.

As for the story pushing sales, she pointed to strong pre-orders for the book, which came in before the story got out on the Opie and Anthony radio show and on the O’Reilly Factor.

She also pointed to spikes in sales around Father’s Day and again after Chris Kyle’s murder in early 2013.

She did say the O’Reilly show did have a major impact on book sales, but not from O’Reilly asking about Ventura, but rather O’Reilly’s endorsement of the book, which she said is rare. “Did the Ventura story have any impact on the success of the book? It did not,” she replied. “Was that mere endorsement enough to be a big factor in sales of American Sniper? Yes.”

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