....LMB: "When Bloggers Attack"....

October 29, 2003

The Players

Donald Luskin is a columnist for the conservative National Review magazine and a blogger.

Paul Krugman is a liberal economist and columnist for the NY Times.

"Atrios" is the pseudonym of a fellow who writes/edits the weblog Eschaton

The Background

Donald Luskin thinks that Paul Krugman is a liar. Luskin has spent lots of time trying to expose what he claims are Krugman's lies. Lots and lots of time. I checked Luskin's site today, and 13 of his last 14 blog entries have been about Krugman in some way.

The Incident

On October 7, 2003, Atrios posted a three word entry on his weblog, entitled "Diary of a Stalker". The entry simply says "By Donald Luskin" and has a link to Luskin's weblog. Knowing Atrios' general style, it seems most likely that the post was meant as a snide, sarcastic comment pointing out Luskin's seeming fixation on Krugman.

The Lawsuit

On October 29, Jeffrey J. Upton, lawyer for Donald Luskin, sends a letter to Atrios claiming that many of Atrios' readers submitted comments to the Oct. 5 post (which are visible if one clicks on the "comments" link, like most blogs) that were "libelous". Upton threatens to find Atrios' true identity by issuing a subpoena to Atrios' blog host, and "take further legal action" if Atrios does not erase the offending post and all of the related comments.


Wow, what a whiny motherfucker this Luskin is. People on a website insulted you. Boo fucking hoo.

Only three real explanations for Luskin's actions:

1) Luskin is really super thin-skinned and can't tolerate people making fun of him, so he decided to sue somebody.

2) Luskin wants to intimidate Atrios, and perhaps other pseudonymous writers, but exposing their true identities. Maybe they'd be afraid to speak out then.

3) Luskin is using your standard "win at any cost" strategy to silence his critics.

Either of these makes Luskin look like an unpleasant individual.

The Legal Stuff

First of all, are any of those comments libelous? Can an opinion be libelous? Seems like a bunch of nonsense to me.

If I detach myself from the situation, I do see an interesting legal conundrum here. Is Atrios actually responsible for the comments that other people post to his site?

On one hand, the answer should obviously be "no." He didn't write those things. Each individual comment poster is responsible for their own words, and Luskin should go sue each of them if he truly found their comments libelous.

On the other hand, it is Atrios' site and he is responsible for its content.

But on another (third?) hand, the comments aren't technically on Atrios' site. When you click the "comments" button, you get a pop-up window from a third party, a company called Haloscan. And on Haloscan's site, they claim that "We are not responsible in any way for the content posted on the members' sites or for the comments posted to this server as a result of the commenting service we provide." So Haloscan claims that they are not responsible for the content of comments, but does not say who is.

So who is responsible for all this libelousness? I have no idea. Is this potential lawsuit a waste of everyone's time? Hell yes.


Apparently, Atrios is not responsible for the comments that his readers post, there's actually legal precedent which explicitly says so.


Posted by Jake at 05:57 PM | TrackBack (0)

Paul Krugman is my hero. I heard him on WBAI and I thought he was GREAT! This guy's stuff should be syndicated and published/broadcasted EVERYWHERE

Posted by: vervain at November 1, 2003 09:25 AM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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