NBC News Sued For Libel & Slander After Describing Rifle Target Company As Bomb Makers

NBC News and a local affiliate have being slapped with a libel and slander lawsuit for March, 23, 2015 report that aired on Today (also known as The Today Show) entitled, “Bombs for Sale? Popular Stores Sell ‘Dangerous Explosives.'”


Attorneys representing Tannerite Sports filed suit against NBC Universal News Group (NBCU) and Lexington, KY-based WLEX Communications for libel and slander for allegedly defamatory print and video reports from NBC News national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen.

The video segment (above) on Today ran in conjunction with an equally inflammatory print story on the Today web site with the headline, Bombs for sale: Targets containing dangerous explosive being sold legally. WLEX ran a version of the Today article that also allegedly claimed that it is illegal under federal law to mix the two component parts of Tannerite, which is factually false.

Bearing Arms debunked these apparently defamatory reports from NBC News national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen the day they aired.

Mendelsohn, Drucker, & Dunleavy, P.C. is the firm representing Tannerite Sports in the case, and alleges the following defamatory claims (PDF) were made by NBC News:

  • On March 23, 2015, Defendant NBCU released a defamatory “report” that falsely claimed that Plaintiff’s rifle targets are “bombs for sale.”
  • In a related video, Defendant NBCU’s investigative reporter falsely asserted that “I am basically holding a bomb in my hand.”
  • NBCU’s report contains one or more written false statements that were intended to impugn Plaintiff’s rifle targets and Plaintiff’s reputation in the hunting industry.
  • Plaintiff’s rifle targets are not bombs and are not well-suited for use as weapons.
  • A bomb is a weapon that is illegal to make. In the United States, manufacturing a bomb requires numerous federal licenses.
  • Federal guidelines allow consumers to mix and shoot Tannerite®-brand rifle targets for personal, non-commercial use as targets.

The suit alleges that the NBC report constitutes statements that “were made maliciously, intentionally, and with reckless disregard for the truth,” that NBC News published “defamatory statements with malice,” and that the video and print reports ” have, in fact, directly and proximately harmed,” Tannerite Sports.

Mendelsohn, Drucker, & Dunleavy, P.C. released the following statement regarding the suit to Bearing Arms.

Our client, Tannerite Sports, LLC has been publicly defamed by the false and misleading statements in the NBC news piece and the follow-up story by WLEX Communications, LLC. The news piece asserts that Tannerite®-brand targets are too dangerous to sell to ordinary consumers. To the contrary, Tannerite®-brand targets have been safely used for years.

Unfortunately, there are many in the media today who are driven by an agenda, and rather than simply tell the facts, they twist the truth. But in this situation, a line has been crossed. This is not a case of simply twisting the truth, this news piece included lies and misleading statements to make their point. We are confident of the merits of this case, and that our client will be victorious.

The company Dan Tanner build from the ground up to become the “name” binary target company could suffer significant damage as a result of this vicious and defamatory NBC News report.


* * *

Dan Tanner is 45 now, but began helping his grandfather in his shop in coastal Oregon at the tender age of six. Dan’s grandfather had been crippled as a young man, but mastered wood and metal work. He specializing in rifle stocks carved out of myrtle. Dan served as the “legs” for his wheelchair-bound grandfather, and came to develop the same love of shooting and fine firearms.

Dan Tanner, with a 1903 Winchester rifle. The myrtle wood stock was carved by his grandfather.

At just 21, Dan received his Class II manufacturing license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Tanner perfected and patented a non-flammable, non-incendiary, extremely stable binary explosive target mixture that leaves nothing behind but a cloud of water vapor and the sound of a concussive blast.

Tannerite cannot be set off with a lit fuse, open flame, or electricity. It cannot be set off by dropping it or striking it. It will not go off if shot with a .22LR rifle, or any common handgun caliber.

Tannerite will go off only if struck by a high velocity rifle bullet moving in excess of 2,000 feet-per-second (FPS). It is not remotely a “bomb” as Jeff Rossen and NBC News claimed, and is perfectly safe and easy to use.

The mixture is used as a target indicator for long-range rifle target shooters.

It has become so ubiquitous in the 20 years since it was introduced that while “Tannerite” is the patented formula, almost all binary explosive targets are known generically as “tannerite.”  The product is so safe that in the two decades that Tannerite has been on the market, no one has been injured using it within manufacturer’s guidelines.


Dan Tanner currently employees 36 people to package and ship Tannerite, but his small business and their jobs are now threatened because of the sensationalist and defamatory claims made by Jeff Rossen on Today which treated a successful American small business as if it was an accomplice to imaginary domestic terrorists.

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