Was it al.com, the largest mainstream outlet in my home area? No. Was it a progressive site that had followed the constitutional issues raised by my unlawful arrest, related to alleged defamation of another GOP operative (Rob Riley), in October 2013? Nope. Was it a Web site with special interest in digital communications or the rights of bloggers and Web publishers? No siree.
It was the The Daily Caller, a news and opinion Web site launched in 2010 by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, a one-time adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Is The Daily Caller an objective source of news on the Garrison case? Not exactly. One of its contributors is president of something called The Rule of Law Defense Fund. And her name is--you guessed it--Jessica Medeiros Garrison. (I'm not making this up: A Republican is president of an organization that purports to defend the "Rule of Law." Try not to guffaw.)
Does The Daily Caller ("The DC") reveal this little conflict of interest to its readers? Nah. Is the conflict reflected in the Web site's coverage? Oh yes, and we will explain in a moment.
Speaking of conflicts, they don't end there. Who spent more than $3 million to help The Daily Caller get off the ground? That was retired Wyoming investment guru and Republican mega-donor Foster Friess, according to Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple, Politico's Dylan Byers, and others.
That's the same Foster Friess who, Breitbart Unmasked (BU) reports, provided seed funding for the National Bloggers Club (NBC), a consortium of down-scale right-wing pundits, such as Robert Stacy McCain, Aaron Walker, John Hoge, and John Patrick Frey. BU reports that Friess also helped fund Karl Rove's American Crossroads. (Speaking of Aaron Walker, I have a bizarre story about him. See note at the end of this post.)
President of the NBC, of course, is Ali A. Akbar, he of the multiple felony convictions and a tendency to troll for gay sex on the Grindr geosocial app. Akbar threatened a lawsuit against me for reporting on the contents of a letter that Alabama attorney and whistleblower Jill Simpson wrote to Robert Bauer, counsel for President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
The Simpson letter included allegations that Rove and Akbar had engaged in a homosexual relationship. Simpson's investigation of the matter came after she received a copy of Akbar's Grindr ad, which said he was looking for sex with "men who are Republican, political, and love to discuss politics and philosophy." I don't know about the philosophy part, but Karl Rove certainly seems to qualify under the rest of that description.
Case law dating back roughly 45 years shows that Akbar had no valid defamation claim against me. But he enlisted Montgomery lawyer Baron Coleman to send me a threatening letter, dated October 26, 2013, which was three days after Alabama deputies beat me up inside my own home, doused me with pepper spray, and hauled me off to jail for a five-month stay.
For good measure, The Daily Caller also lists Ali Akbar as a contributor--and that brings us back to Tucker Carlson's little toy and the "journalism" it practices.
How do we know The DC broke the story about Jessica Garrison's default judgment? You can check out the site's story here, which is dated April 13, 2015. That's before I knew about the judgment, and it was one day before al.com reported on it. (If you see a note revealing to readers that Jessica Garrison writes for the site, please let me know; I haven't found one.)
Bloggers under the Ali Akbar umbrella took note of the story. You can read a couple of their takes here at Hogewash and here at The Other McCain.
This provides a classic example of how the right-wing noise machine works. You have The Daily Caller breaking the story about the default judgment in the Garrison case, while members of Ali Akbar's National Bloggers Club quickly weigh in. (Gee, I wonder how The DC found out about the Garrison default judgment. Oh, that's right, Garrison works for them--and the site didn't tell us. That's objectivity you can trust.)
So we have two entities in the right-wing media orbit--The DC and the NBC-- taking a special interest in the Garrison story. And what, or who, ties both of them together? It's Foster Friess, who provided start-up funding for both.
* The story does not mention that the $3.5 million was awarded in a DEFAULT judgment. That means it was not based on the merits of Garrison's claim; it was based on the fact I did not appear at key junctures in the case because I did not receive notice of depositions, hearings, etc.
* The story does not mention that I didn't receive notice because my wife and I were forced to move due to a legally questionable foreclosure on our home, right on the heels of my unconstitutional jail stay in the Riley case.
* The story mentions neither the foreclosure nor the wildly unlawful nature of my arrest, in violation of more than 200 years of First Amendment law. Is that because right-wing interests connected to The Daily Caller were involved in, or at least had advance knowledge of, both the foreclosure and the arrest?
* The story states that Garrison and Attorney General Luther Strange vehemently denied my reports of an extramarital affair. The story does not say that their denials came at a hearing where no opposition was present. It does not say that their denials came without any cross examination, with no depositions, production of documents, or any other form of discovery. It also does not say that Jessica Garrison's divorce file remains sealed in Tuscaloosa County, for no apparent lawful reason.
* The story refers to my reporting on Garrison and Strange as "flimsy accusations." Oh, but wait, Jessica Garrison works for the outfit that produced the story. Did Tucker Carlson's team reveal that to its readers? Nope. Can't get much more "fair and balanced" than that.
* Has The DC followed up with reports about my efforts to have the default judgment overturned? Has it reported on my Motion to Vacate, which cites numerous cases that show the judgment is due to be set aside? Has it reported that my motion drew no written response from Garrison attorney Bill Baxley? Has it reported that much of the Garrison default judgment is based on allegations regarding her son that I did not even report? Hah, are you kidding? The DC has ignored all of that. (After all, Jessica Garrison works for them.)
Do Foster Friess and Ali Akbar have a vested interest in such sloppy and shallow reporting on the Garrison judgment? Does The Daily Caller have other conflicts of interests that might explain its reporting?
We will examine those questions in an upcoming post.
Note: Aaron Walker is one of the more interesting members of the National Bloggers Club. A Yale-educated attorney who lives in Virginia, Walker's blog is called Allergic to Bull. He used to blog under the name Aaron Worthing, until his real identity was revealed in the course of the many legal proceedings that have accompanied the right-wing feud with Brett Kimberlin. Walker first came to my attention when he was a leading force behind "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," an effort apparently to fire back at, or provoke, Islamic religious sensibilities.
Walker claims that he and his wife lost their jobs because of his outing during the course of the Kimberlin battle. I certainly can empathize with that kind of thing, although I'm not sure Kimberlin caused the job loss.
Walker wrote five posts about my incarceration, and they proved to be a mixed bag. He correctly acknowledged that the temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction leading to my arrest were unlawful. But in another post, he pointed to me as the mysterious "RogerS" behind Kimberlin's RICO lawsuit and more or less accused me of committing a crime--the unauthorized practice of law. Walker also apparently tried to gather intelligence about various legal cases to which I've been a party and came up mostly with information that is wildly inaccurate. He claims to have found an anonymous source to reveal the "inside baseball" version of my problems with our criminally inclined neighbor, Mike McGarity.
(Not surprisingly, Walker made no effort to report on McGarity's criminal history, which we've revealed here, here, here, here, here, and here, Walker also chose to ignore the ugly history of McGarity's lawyer, William E. Swatek, which includes a suspension of his license and a criminal trial for perjury. We've covered that subject here, here, here, here, and here.)
On the McGarity post, almost everything the source told Walker is false--so Walker either was duped or he didn't try very hard to find someone who actually knows what he is talking about. Heck, Walker could have contacted me; I've been out of jail since March 26, 2014. Or he could have checked public records that are on file in the Alabama court system.
At one point, Kimberlin brought second-degree assault charges against Walker, and Walker was arrested in court for "incitement" while arguing the case. (Maryland has some strange laws, including provisions for "peace orders," which are new to me but have played a prominent role in the various Kimberlin cases.)
Walker has called me a hypocrite for allegedly supporting Kimberlin's efforts to silence him via "peace orders," while decrying Rob Riley's efforts to silence me via a TRO/preliminary injunction. Walker seems to miss several points: (1) Analysts on the left and right have stated that Riley's actions against me represent prior restraints under the First Amendment. No one seriously doubts that I was the victim of unlawful court actions, which Rob Riley requested; (2) I don't know if Kimberlin's efforts regarding peace orders against Walker are lawful and supported by facts--and I've made no claim about them one way or another. Peace orders, it seems, are a strange provision of Maryland law, and I have not researched them or analyzed their propriety in the Kimberlin cases; (4) Walker and others in his blogging group claim I am a supporter and advocate of Brett Kimberlin. The truth? Of the 2,903 posts I've written at Legal Schnauzer, exactly one has been about Brett Kimberlin--and that was the result of a trusted source asking me to report on the subject. I've had one brief phone conversation with Kimberlin, and that is the extent of my personal communication with him.
Here is the theme of my one post about Brett Kimberlin: I admire his spunk and tenancity, his willingness to fight back against a conservative onslaught. Too few liberals, in my view, are willing to take on such battles--in fact, many of them are wusses. Brett Kimberlin might have shortcomings, as we all do, but being a wuss is not one of them.
That was pretty much it. Did I claim to know anything about peace orders, and Kimberlin's apparent use of them? Did I claim that Kimberlin's legal arguments were solid, while Walker's were not? The answer to both questions is no. I tried to paint a general picture of an ideological online feud and show that at least one liberal has the cojones to fight back.
The whole contretemps apparently started when an overzealous blogger named Seth Allen ("Socrates" was his screen name) started stalking and harassing Kimberlin. That led Kimberlin to file a lawsuit, and Walker offered to provide Allen with legal help. Activists from both the left and right started piling on, and before long, a full-scale ideological gang war was in session.
I was very much an outsider in all of this, not even paying much attention, until someone decided (inaccurately) that I must be the "RogerS" who was encouraging Kimberlin to file a RICO lawsuit. Next thing you know, Alabama deputies are dragging me off to jail, and I'm a regular topic of discussion for Aaron Walker and other right-wing bloggers.
In following this long-and-winding story, it's hard not to notice that Aaron Walker seems to be the "Gladys Kravitz of the blogging world." The Seth Allen-Brett Kimberlin dispute did not involve him, but Walker stuck his nose in it anyway. "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," to any semi adult, was a pointless, stupid idea--the digital equivalent of soaping someone's windows--but Walker got involved in it anyway. Walker had every right to report on Brett Kimberlin's background, and to take issue with Kimberlin's politics, but court documents indicate Walker and others took their distaste for Kimberlin and turned it into a jihad that included stalking and harassment. Walker also had every right to report on my case and criticize me in any number of ways, but he jumped on the bogus "RogerS" train and essentially accused me of a crime I didn't commit. He then cited multiple anonymous sources, which is fine, but they provided an avalanche of false information--much of which could have been proven false with a check of public records, or by contacting me.
The notion of Aaron Walker as a "Gladys Kravitz" kind of character brings me to a point that hits close to home. On October 28, 2013, Walker wrote a post titled "Down Deep Into Roger Shuler's Paranoid Mind." If you scroll to the comments section, you see that the second item reads as follows:
SPQROctober 28, 2013 at 12:37 PM
David Schuler (sic)?
Why would the commenter ask this? Apparently, it's because Walker's original headline was "Deep Down In David Shuler's Paranoid Mind." It's possible that Walker originally referred to me as "David Shuler" throughout the post, but it's hard to tell about that.
As for the headline, you can check the URL, which still appears as:
I know from experience that you can change the headline on a blog post, but the URL will reflect the original headline--at least in the Blogger format that Walker and I both use. That means Walker's original headline referred to me as "David Shuler."
Why is that interesting? Well, I have a brother named David Shuler, who is a lawyer in a state other than Alabama. In fact, I've referred to him (not by name) in at least one post, probably more. Here is the one reference I know of for sure:
We certainly do not think all lawyers are awful people. We actually know some who are honorable. In fact, such lawyers--Don Siegelman, Paul Minor, Wes Teel--have been central characters in many of our posts, as victims of bad apples in their own profession. Some noble lawyers--Jill Simpson, Scott Horton, Andrew Kreig--have been consistent sources of insight and inspiration for this blog.
I was not predisposed to dislike lawyers. Heck, my youngest brother is a lawyer--in a state other than Alabama--and I've always thought of him as an upstanding guy.
Why did Aaron Walker refer to me as "David Shuler"? Was it just a "slip of the keyboard," signifying nothing? Or maybe it means something else. Maybe Aaron Walker and David Shuler, as fellow members of the legal tribe, have communicated with each other for some reason. What would they have to talk or e-mail or text about? Maybe Aaron "Gladys Kravitz" Walker just could not keep his nose out of my personal business. Maybe Aaron Walker's history of stepping in doo-doo that could easily have been avoided is repeating itself.
Walker already refers to me as "paranoid," so I might as well play the part. Doesn't it seem strange that, of all the incorrect names he could have chosen for me, the one that came out just happened to be David--and I have a lawyer brother by that name? Isn't it also curious that my brother's name has several variants--Dave, Davy--but Walker spit out "David," which is the version my brother always has gone by.
Could I be way off base on my Aaron Walker/David Shuler angle? Sure. But I do know that lawyers tend to stick together--and I know that their professional loyalties can sometimes outweigh other loyalties, such as to a blood relative, a brother. I also know that, through bar directories and such, lawyers have many avenues for looking each other up. Again, whether they are based in Vermont or California, they all are members of the same club.
I know this for sure: Aaron Walker's slip-up on a headline has given me quite a bit to think about.