Sunday, September 25th, 2016

So yesterday I was libeled

25

How was your Monday? I’ll admit mine could have been better. I had a stomach virus. Couldn’t eat a damn thing all day.

And I was libeled.

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed.

Othello, Act III, Scene 3

Lisa Mux of Blogging Blue, now playing a martyr in pixels, posted a libelous op-ed by Dustin Bielke attacking me and the MacIver Institute. It had so many errors, including the spelling of my name, that I was shocked that anyone would run it.

After several emails, Twitter posts and a threat of a lawsuit, Mux excised the portion that libeled me the most. After a few more repeated emails and a tense conversation, Zach Wisniewski of Blogging Blue pulled down the blog post. I’d like to thank Zach for finally making the correct decision.

I’m in the process of pursuing the matter with Bielke and I fear it will end up in court. I’ve never sued anyone yet, but Bielke is being uncooperative about issuing a retraction and identifying everyone that was sent his libelous op-ed.

Ironically, I met Mux for coffee a while back to discuss blogging. Silly me, I encouraged her. I also explained the sordid history of how I became a blogger/writer/columnist. What was especially galling was that among the libels was the accusation that I am engaged in ongoing Get-Out-The-Vote efforts. Mux knows I haven’t worked for a political campaign for years.

Her excuse was that she didn’t read the op-ed too closely and that (she thought) it came from the Center for Media and Democracy, so it had to be good. (Turns out the piece isn’t from the Center for Media and Democracy at all, more of what Mux got wrong.)

The good news for Mux is that I’m not suing her. You’d think she would say, “thank you for not financially ruining me after I recklessly damaged your reputation as a writer.” At the very least, a public apology would be nice.

Mux, who libeled me, has decided to try to make herself the victim in all of this.

I explained to this person that I had reached out to the author of the column seeking an explanation, but that until I heard back, I wasn’t inclined to remove the post. That seemed fair to me, since I didn’t write the column myself, and it’s generally good to go straight to the source and gather all of the facts before making rash moves in situations like this.

But that wasn’t good enough for this person. He was relentless with his “demands” both via email and via twitter.

I do not consider twitter, which is public, to be an acceptable forum in which to air grievances.

The way in which this entire incident was handled by the person demanding a retraction seemed entirely unprofessional to me, and felt like harassment. It was extremely stressful.

Oh boo hoo, poor Lisa Mux. She libeled someone and they didn’t like it and that hurt her feelings. Never mind the stress and aggravation her libeling cost me, not to mention the amount of time I had to take away from all my other projects to deal with her attack on my reputation.

But now she’s got “a plan” to get even. And by the way, it’s all so “seventh grade.”

Of course, that’s not what she sent me in an email:

I can assure you that I was not trying to libel you, James-that’s not my style. I agreed with the post, and I posted it. That’s it. Perhaps I didn’t read the paragraphs about you closely enough-which is why I retracted them. But I never set out to libel you…

And:

James, we should meet and talk some time. i would never, ever, write or post something just to libel anyone-that’s not who I  am as a person. Zach took the post down while we clarify some facts.

So let me make something perfectly clear. When you attack my professional reputation as a writer, expect to be challenged. When you libel me, expect me to take action. It’s that simple, and those who want to engage me in that manner better grow up a little more than seventh-grade Mux.

Let this also serve notice to anyone that received the op-ed from Dustin Bielke that it is rife with errors, that he has been notified of its libelous content, and that I intend to pursue the matter until I am satisfied, in a court of law if necessary. I have engaged an attorney to that end.

(Update: At this point, the only comments that are coming in are demands that I repeat the libel and speculation on what the libel is. And those are the clean ones. Comments are closed. – JW 3/22 6:14 AM)

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