Here’s an interesting timeline:
- 31 March: Lott’s abrupt departure from the American enterprise institute.
- 10 April: Lott files his lawsuit alleging that Levitt has defamed him.
- 12 April: First Anniversary of Freakonomics publication.
I think all three events are connected.
There is a one year statute of limitations on libel, so April 11 was the last day he could sue Levitt. There are many reasons why AEI might want to let Lott go, but none of them are new. So it may well be that Lott’s determination to sue Levitt was the last straw and caused his dismissal.
The AEI’s refusal to investigate Lott’s misconduct has been a disgrace, but this lawsuit seems to me to be much better than an AEI investigation. Levitt’s defence gets to investigate Lott’s conduct and question people under oath.