My time as part of the Grammy Award-winning trio The Fugees afforded me many opportunities, professionally and personally. I travel the world, meet some the most interesting people and, most importantly, I am able to put my celebrity to good use by contributing to numerous charities and other philanthropic projects.
Of all my endeavors, I take my philanthropic work most seriously. Whether it is creating documentaries to shed light on the plight of Los Angeles' homeless population (as I did with Skid Row), working with my friends Sean Penn, Paul Haggis and the Clinton Global Initiative to rebuild Haiti after it suffered devastation in the 2010 earthquake, or traveling with Marc Anthony to Peru for his Maestro Cares foundation for children in need, engaging in charitable efforts is something that I hold dear to my heart and believe is my larger purpose on this planet.
Because of my connection to these and other causes, I was deeply disturbed and angered by the malicious accusations made by the New York Post, reporting that I bailed on "my" 9/11 charity. I have no 9/11 charity. I was never scheduled to perform at such an event. I was not even aware of the existence or planning concerning the event.
I know that my personal life is fodder for the tabloids, and although I certainly wish they would not fixate on my relationships (both personal and professional), I know that is par for the course. However, in reporting that I failed to show up for a charity concert, to which I had and continue to have no connection, the New York Post crossed the line. It is not just that the New York Post reported something that was untrue -- as my complaint to the court contends, it was that their investigative journalists received confirmation that I was in no way connected to the organization and event, yet still chose to recklessly print lies. Tabloids may not be the standard by which we judge journalistic ethics, but a reporter still must have a responsibility to at least not spread blatant untruths. Further, it is disrespectful to the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11 to use that tragedy so flippantly in order to further a vendetta against an individual.
Enough is enough. By suing the New York Post, I hope to also send a message to other news outlets that they cannot get away with maligning celebrities for the sheer fun of it and maliciously ruin an individual's reputation in the effort to garner page views. I will not allow the reputation that I have earned as a humanitarian to be sullied by reckless reporting. What good could possibly come from reporting from such an obvious misrepresentation? None. If I chose to remain silent on this matter, it would further damage my reputation, which could, in turn, limit the amount of money I am able to raise for charities in the future. Is that worth headlines and retweets for the New York Post? I think not. For too long tabloids have been given carte blanche to report whatever they want, regardless of the veracity of the story. It is time to take them to task.