A Republican councilman in Maryland has threatened to sue his local newspaper for having the audacity to use his name in an article that involved the county council in which he serves. Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter posted a Facebook status Saturday directed at the writer of the original piece, Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post. In the post, he personally ripped Rodgers, claiming she does not have any values or ethics. He then said that he would not authorize the paper to use his name or likeness in the future.
Rodgers later commented on his post, as he had tagged her, pointing out to Delauter that since he is an elected official, the paper is under no obligation to seek out his permission to write about him or his actions. While Delauter can always decide not to comment on a story that involves him, the paper will continue to report on anything involving him as it is in the public’s interest. Rodgers also said that while Delauter has asked that he not be contacted by the paper or Rodgers in the future, she will continue to ask for his comment on any story that involves him and his office.
Of course, as one would guess by now, Delauter doubled down on his statement, claiming that he’d seek legal action if the paper wrote about him in the future. In Delauter’s mind, he is well within his rights.
Below is a screengrab of the Facebook post along with Rodgers’ and Delauter’s comments:
The Frederick News-Post ran a piece about Delauter’s tiff on Tuesday, perhaps as a way to thumb their nose at the idiotic councilman who somehow thinks he can stop the local press from writing about him. In the article, the paper’s managing editor commented about Delauter’s threat to sue the paper and reporter.
Terry Headlee, The News-Post’s managing editor, said the newspaper typically does not seek permission or authorization to publish a person’s name or reference, except in the case of children.
“Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story,” Headlee said. “But to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I’m speechless. It’s just a pointless, misguided attempt to intimidate and bully the press and shows an astonishing lack of understanding of the role of a public servant.”
One has to agree with Headlee. Seriously, it is hard to imagine that there’s an elected official out there who thinks they can sue a publication for writing about their actions as a public servant. It is almost unfathomable. Even though Delauter’s threat to sue is unimaginably silly, the News-Post was able to find a defender of Delauter — fellow Republican Councilman Steve Shreve.
Shreve was the focal point of the original article that got under Delauter’s skin. The piece in question discussed arguments over parking spots and staffing at the county office. Shreve was upset that council members didn’t have designated parking spots and had to share secretaries. While Shreve commented for the article, Delauter, who supports Shreve on this issue, did not. The article didn’t have any quotes from Delauter and instead just mentioned his actions.
When the News-Post reached out to Shreve to ask him his opinion on Delauter’s threat to sue, the Republican councilman responded by saying he thinks Delauter is right to sue the paper because it is unfair to conservatives.
Shreve, R-at large, told The News-Post in a phone interview he supported Delauter taking legal actions.
“I did not see his post, but I think The News-Post is extremely biased and someone should sue them,” Shreve said.
When asked if news media outlets should obtain permission to publish an elected official’s name or reference, Shreve said, “I think media outlets are cowards and they hide behind the label of journalists and that’s a bully pulpit to expand their liberal (agenda).”
It is almost as if Shreve wanted to outdo Delauter in his stupidity. He admits he didn’t see the post, but still goes ahead and comments on it, and goes further by whining about the liberal media and how the paper should be sued due to its bias against local conservatives.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).