Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weeks after Coughlin sexual affair story breaks, no lawsuits

Three of Ohio's law school graduate bloggers (Tim Russo, Pho, and myself) agree that the story written by James Brenner for Cleveland Scene magazine alleging that GOP gubernatorial candidate/State Senator Kevin Coughlin began an affair with a student while teaching at the University of Akron and continued for a considerable amount of time and included using campaign funds to pay of hotel stays and a repair to her car is pretty much judgment proof on libel grounds under the NY Times v. Sullivan standard. Like my earlier post, Pho calls the decision by Scene to spike the story because of a simple threat of a lawsuit by Coughlin an "abject surrender" that is "puzzling."

To date, despite the best efforts of anonymous blog commenters who somehow have unprecedented level of knowledge of both the inner workings of Scene magazine and Camp Coughlin's activities (or are just pretended to), I've yet to see any evidence to give me a reason to doubt my initial assessment that any threat of a lawsuit by Coughlin was an empty threat and that any such lawsuit based on libel of Coughlin was groundless.

Also to date, neither myself, Tim Russo, or Pho has been contacted by Coughlin's attorneys to demand that we retract our posts or else be subject to litigation for libeling Senator Coughlin. And do you know why? Because Coughlin's lawyers know they have no case. They also probably know that I am a lawyer, that if I were sued, I would likely countersue Coughlin for malicious prosecution/frivolous conduct and seek to sanction Coughlin and his attorneys for trying to use private litigation to intimidate me from exercising my constitutionally protected First Amendment rights. If they didn't realize it before now, they do now.

So please, sue us. I could use the money. And it gives us all an excuse to write more about Coughlin's extramaritial affair with a campaign worker while going around the State and calling "gay marriage," not "adultery," the greatest threat to the institute of marriage. Posts about Cleveland Scene's spiking of the sourced newsstory about Coughlin's alleged affair is traffic gold.

I can't wait to depose Kevin Coughlin. And if I believe he committed perjury in such a deposition, I'll forward it to the General Assembly to consider impeachment proceedings against him.

Right now, Old Media is holding its fire because Coughlin is not a credible challenger for the GOP nomination and most people don't know who he is. That, and they hate to give credit for blogs for breaking any kind of story and they're using the excuse that a story about his affair is too "tabloid" for them after going gaga for Monica and the lil' blue dress.

This story is far better evidenced and sourced that what Matt Naugle had when he first alleged (and was proven right) that Marc Dann was carrying on an extramarital affair with a young staffer and using campaign funds to fund those activities. And yet, not one conservative blogger has even MENTIONED this story. Hypocrites. Kevin Coughlin supported the impeachment inquiry and thought Dann waited too long to resign. Coughlin's double standard on resigning over extramarital affairs in office can go unnoticed only so long.

But the embargo by Old Media collapses the second Coughlin sues us. That and other dams will then break. And Team Coughlin knows it. Which is why they'll continue their campaign to privately try to call the credibility of the story into question without ever actually suing.

It's your call, Kevin. But my prediction is that you'll get behind John Kasich as Governor and use his candidacy as an excuse to slither back to the obscurity he so richly deserves.


Anonymous said...

Wow..You bloggers have an sense of self-importance that far exceeds what it is in reality...

James Renner was not fired because of this story, he was fired for insubordination. The owner of Scene thought he was an ass, nothing more, nothing less...And why would Coughlin sue the "messengers"(you people), in the grand scheme you people don't matter, he is far more likely to sue the people quoted in the article. Think about it, what could he even possibly gain from suing Renner, my guess is at best a letter from a bankruptcy court saying his judgment against Renner has been stripped through bankruptcy due to Renner's lack of assets and income. Let's be real, once you have been fired by Scene Mag, is there really anyone interested in hiring you? But that is neither here nor there.

I encourage you all to please just calm down and get passed this idea that Kevin Coughlin's threats to sue Scene are an affront to the integrity of journalism...Rightly or wrongly James Renner was fired for being James Renner, you can only piss in someone's face so many times before they take a crap on your head, that is what happened here...

Modern Esquire said...

It's hard to take your mocking of my importance seriously when it's coming from someone in Coughlin Country with nothing better to do in Akron on a Sunday night but post anonymous comments on blogs at 1:30 a.m. on a workday.

Why would Coughlin believe that the people in the story have more assets than the reporter (or, again, me?) Bloggers are far more responsiblle getting this information out in the public than any of Renner's sources. If Coughlin sues the sources, it's just to intimidate them to shut up or risk becoming homeless defending themselves from a frivolous libel lawsuit.

Coughlin's lawsuit threat was based on a weak, if not outright nonexistent, legal claim. It was the grounds that Scene magazine cited as the reason why it spiked the story. It was better sourced and confirmed by multiple sources than anything that Scene reported on in the Dann affair, which Scene had no qualms about publishing some of the most explicit language and descriptions about what allegedly occurred. So it's not like the nature of the story wasn't up Scene's alley.

James Renner was fired for sending a nasty email to the CEO of his publishing company BECAUSE THE CEO ORDERED THAT THE STORY BE SPIKED. You cannot separate the pitiful "insubordination" excuse from the spiked Coughlin story. They are unretactably intertwined.

Scene abandoned its dedication to journalism in spiking a story that was more than adequately sourced to defeat any litigation claim. That's the story. That, and it appears that Coughlin did what he demanded Marc Dann to resign over.

Anonymous said...

Coughlin may be a jerk and a hypocrite for 20 other reasons, but the Dann comparison doesn't hold up. Dann didn't just have his own affair with a staffer, he had aides hitting on drunk employees at his place, driving drunk and wrecking state cars, and more. Even the IG report never fully captured all the mismanagement and corruption of the Dann days.