The defamation suit against gossip website FishbowlDC editor Betsy Rothstein and writer Peter Ogburn took another step forward today, as the witness lists for the defense and the plaintiff were released. Among the recognizable (in DC) names was The Daily Caller editor and Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson, who is a longtime admirer of Rothstein’s. Carlson is on the defense witness list, perhaps to be called as a character witness, while another heavy hitter, current CNN Senior Director of Public Relations and former FishbowlDC co-editor Matt Dornic, appears on both the defense’s and plaintiff’s lists.
The $2 million suit was brought by publicist Wendy Gordon in January, in response to a series of blog posts entitled “Wendy Wednesdays,” in which Rothstein and Ogburn allegedly “falsely depicted Ms. Gordon as a self-promoting, attention-seeking, loose party girl/cougar, constantly on the prowl for considerably younger men for casual, sexual relations,” according to the suit. Wonkette‘s Rebecca Schoenkopf, who has been dispassionately following the proceedings for quite awhile, summarizes the two sides’ positions this way:
Every week for a year, they called her a whore. But unlike when we at your Wonket call people whores, this publicist lady is not a public official or even a public figure. She’s just a publicist lady who seems fun, and also attractive! And those are things, it seems, that Fishbowl’s poor-man’s editrix, Betsy Rothstein, apparently does not like!
That is what we in the news business call “hooboy get out your checkbook.” And yet, FishbowlDC is fighting that nice lady’s suit, because
“Defendants deny that the ‘blog’ postings on FishbowlDC.com identified in the Complaint constitute actionable claims for defamation or false light invasion of privacy,” writes attorney Mark Bailen. “To the contrary, the commentary in the postings, when viewed together with the photographs of Plaintiff taken in public places that accompanied the postings, represents satire, opinion, hyperbole and other expressions of speech squarely protected by the First Amendment and District of Columbia law, or is otherwise not defamatory.”
Oh, well, when you put it that way, it is definitely satire, opinion, hyperbole and other expressions of speech squarely protected by the First Amendment, to call a publicist a whore every week for a year.
The Washington City Paper released both witness lists today:
On the defense side, lawyers for Mediabistro Inc. list potential 12 witnesses, including Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson, former Washington Timeseditor Sam Dealey, former Washington Examiner reporter and Sirius radio host Julie Mason, and Washingtonian editor-at-large Carol Joynt.
The plaintiffs are calling 31 witnesses, including the Washington Times‘ Emily Miller, FRESH 94.7’s Tommy McFly, the Washington Examiner‘s Joana Suleiman, and the Washington Post‘s Paul Schwartzman.
You can view the full witness list here.
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