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Monday, October 26, 2015

Honesty and accuracy remain foreign concepts for Alabama right-wingers reporting on Jessica Medeiros Garrison's wacky, error-filled rant at marieclaire.com

Rob Holbert
Alabama's right-wing media types never fail to astound with their dishonesty and incompetence. Take, for example, our "old pal" Rob Holbert, publisher of the Mobile-area weekly Lagniappe.

When we last addressed the subject of Holbert, he was criticizing my reports about Governor Robert Bentley's affair with aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason, plus my outing of al.com journalist Charles J. Dean as a customer of the Ashley Madison extramarital-affair Web site. We showed that Holbert's commentary included so many errors that we didn't have enough fingers to count them all.

Part of me wanted to write off the Holbert piece as the case of a publisher/writer having a bad day. But given Holbert's right-wing bona fides--he once served as deputy press secretary for former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS)--I thought it possible that Holbert was afflicted with the sort of deep-seated dishonesty that seems to have gripped so many postmodern Republicans. (See last Thursday's U.S. House of Representatives grilling of Hillary Clinton on the issue of Benghazi for a classic example.)

In an October 21 piece titled "Schnauzer target tells magazine his posts changed her life," Holbert takes on the Jessica Medeiros Garrison story, which grew from her as-told-to article at marieclaire.com, attacking my reporting on her extramarital affair with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.

The headline of Holbert's piece has all sorts of grammatical problems, and the story itself reveals that the writer still struggles with accuracy and a tendency to make bizarre statements that seem to come from . . . well, right field, I guess. But for now, we will focus on his dishonesty.

Let's start by examining the third and fourth paragraphs from Holbert's article, where he addresses (sort of) my response to Garrison's piece:

Garrison’s article appeared on marieclaire.com last week. At first, she writes, she just tried to laugh off Shuler’s accusations that she had been involved in a lengthy affair with Strange. Shuler also wrote numerous unflattering stories about Garrison’s ex-husband, Lee Garrison, as he ran for the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education. Shuler also published stories on his blog alleging Jessica Garrison received a sweetheart deal on the purchase of her home and questioning the sources of her pay. Garrison said Shuler even questioned the paternity of her son in print, an allegation he denies, although he has written about discussing the matter with Lee Garrison

“Never have I reported that Luther Strange is the father of her child. In fact, I contacted Lee Garrison and interviewed him on the subject. He said he was convinced the child was his, and I never reported otherwise,” Shuler wrote last Friday in a scathing rebuke of the Marie Claire article. He didn’t explain why he would call the child’s father to discuss paternity if it wasn’t something he questioned.

So, we can give Holbert a gold star for finding my blog and the response I had written to Garrison's PR-attack piece. (Why do we call the marieclaire.com article a "PR-attack piece?" Given the glaring number of errors in the article--and the fact writer Liz Welch never contacted me for comment and clearly never checked the public court record--I don't know what else to call it. The piece certainly cannot rest on its "journalistic merit" because it doesn't have any. Marie Claire is, after all, a women's fashion magazine.)

How did Holbert know I had addressed the Garrison article on Legal Schnauzer? I told him I had when he contacted me via e-mail and asked if I had any comment about the Garrison story. (Please keep those two highlighted sections above in mind; we will return to them in a moment.)

Then, we have this in the fifth and sixth paragraphs of Holbert's story:

Shuler claimed Garrison’s article is full of inaccuracies and falsehoods, and reiterated claims her legal win against him came only “because I was not able to defend myself against her lawsuit, or bring a valid counterclaim” due to having been thrown in jail for five months for contempt in another defamation case, then finding his house in foreclosure due to other legal problems.

When I emailed Shuler asking for comments on Garrison’s article, he referred me back to his website.

Again, we see that Holbert actually has checked my blog post regarding Garrison, although he fails to mention specifics that I had laid out about the inaccuracies in the Garrison story. Still, we will give Holbert credit for doing at least a little homework. But then, note the highlighted section; he hints that I was dodging him, refusing to take questions, that I would let my blog post speak for itself and say nothing more.

Is that true? Well, let's take a look at the full e-mail communication Rob Holbert and I had on the subject:

Rob Holbert
Oct 16 (7 days ago)

to me


Jessica Garrison published this piece yesterday in Marie Claire. http://www.marieclaire.com/politics/a16418/jessica-garrison-blogger/

I was curious if you have any comments about the story?
Roger Shuler
Oct 17 (6 days ago)

to Rob

I've written one response to it and probably will have more:


If you have specific questions, I would be glad to answer them. Probably would need to do that via phone.

Rob Holbert
Oct 17 (6 days ago)

to me

OK. I read your response. It answers any questions I currently have, but if I have more I'll let you know.



As you can see, I did not simply refer Holbert to my blog. I specifically offered to answer any questions that he had and suggested we do that via phone. He told me my blog post answered all of his questions at the moment, and I never heard back from him.

So why did he suggest that I was dodging him, that I was reluctant to talk about Garrison? I have no idea, but it suggests Holbert started his article with an agenda in mind--and the fact I was willing to take on questions about the Jessica Garrison case apparently did not fit that agenda.

As for the first two highlighted sections near the beginning of this post, they are two of the strangest sentences I've ever seen a purported journalist write. As a reminder, here they are again:

Garrison said Shuler even questioned the paternity of her son in print, an allegation he denies, although he has written about discussing the matter with Lee Garrison.
He didn’t explain why he would call the child’s father to discuss paternity if it wasn’t something he questioned.

A few points:

* I didn't just deny questioning the paternity of her son in print; I invited anyone to conduct a search on my blog, and it will show that I've never reported that Attorney General Luther Strange is the father of Garrison's son. That is a verifiable fact, but Holbert apparently can't be bothered to verify it.

* Holbert seems surprised that I would write about discussing the matter with Lee Garrison. That's what journalists do, they ask questions. Jessica Garrison told marieclaire.com that, at the time of my reporting, rumors were flying about her relationship with Luther Strange, and its possible fallout. To my knowledge, I'm the only journalist to have contacted Lee Garrison--a key source on the subject--and asked him about it directly. Why Holbert seems to find that odd is beyond me.

Jessica Medeiros Garrison
(from al.com)
* Finally, Holbert seems perplexed that I would question the parentage of Garrison's child, as if there is something improper about that. Never mind that Garrison acknowledges rumors were flying around the state about her relationship with Strange--they started long before I wrote about the subject, and they involved persistent questions about the father of her child, considering the timing of her divorce from Lee Garrison. As a journalist with a degree in the field and more than 30 years of professional experience--a fact Garrison and Holbert conveniently ignore--I don't just run with rumors. But when they seem serious enough, I do check them out--and that's what informed my reports about the Garrison/Strange affair--and I stand by those reports. That's also what drove me to contact Lee Garrison, and his answers to my questions convinced me that he is the child's biological father, and I never reported otherwise. Also, I should note that Lee Garrison, unlike his former wife, took questions on a sensitive subject and handled himself with considerable grace.

As for accuracy, Holbert continues to struggle with it. For example, he writes, "[Shuler] claimed he was never legally served notice of the trial." Let me make this as clear as I can make it: There was no trial in the Garrison case, there was no pre-trial discovery, and there was no finding in an adversarial proceeding that my reporting was false or defamatory. In other words, neither Garrison nor Strange faced cross-examination about anything, they never sat for depositions, they never answered written interrogatories, they never turned over any pertinent documents (e-mails, texts, etc.). Jessica Garrison has proclaimed that she "won" her lawsuit, but that contention is based on . . . well, absolutely nothing, no contested record of any kind.

Holbert doesn't even try to hide his bias on the matter. A reasonably objective journalist might refer to Garrison as the "subject" of my "reporting." Holbert and his Lagniappe crew refer to Garrison as a "target" of "online attacks." Garrison could not hire a PR firm--and she seems to have quite a nice expense account--to take a more one-sided approach than that.

Our guy Holbert seems to have almost zero understanding of journalism, even though he holds the title of publisher at a weekly newspaper. He can't seem to grasp that my work never has been found false or defamatory in any trial or adversarial proceeding--and the public record at alacourt.com makes that clear. And yet, he portrays my posts as "online attacks."

Here's one thing interesting about Holbert's piece: He manages to interview Garrison and lobs a few questions at her that would have to improve to reach the level of "softball." Meanwhile, I made it clear that I was happy to be interviewed, but he didn't bother with that.

Holbert did manage to elicit a response or two from Garrison that contain a few kernels of truth, and we will address those in an upcoming post.

Some folks probably think Lagniappe Mobile turns out journalism--and perhaps there are times when the weekly actually does that. But it's hard to expect much from an outfit led by a publisher who reveals himself as a partisan hack, one who is too lazy or incompetent to check the public record or interview a party who might actually bring Jessica Garrison's credibility into question.


Anonymous said...

Anybody who reads Lagniappe regularly does not expect real journalism from Rob Holbert.

Anonymous said...

It sure does seem like this Jessica Medeiros gal has a lot of people trying hard to "protect" her image. It just boggles my mind.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Holbert let Jessica proofread his article to make sure he got everything just to her specifications.

Anonymous said...

Rob Holbert used to work for Trent Lott. That tells you all you need to know about Mr. Holbert.

Insider said...

I wonder if Apple and CEO Tim Cook know that Jessica and RAGA and ferociously anti-gay, thanks to RAGA founder (and current right-wing federal judge) Bill Pryor? Mr. Cook is admired by many as the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He and Apple should steer clear of JMG and RAGA.

legalschnauzer said...

Great point, Insider. Tim Cook also happens to be a native of Alabama and a graduate of Auburn University. He stands for the good things this state can produce. JMG and RAGA stand for just the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Jessica G is a classic conservative. She doesn't let hypocrisy get in the way of a money grab.

Anonymous said...

I saw on the Web where JPMorgan Chase paid $35,000 in membership dues to RAGA. I wonder how many other big banks paid such dues. Is that how all of the bankers stayed out of jail? Is Jessica the go-to gal for bankers who want to stay out of jail?

Anonymous said...

Didn't you once report that Jessica had connections to the Gambino and Genovese crime families?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, I did, @3:15. You have a good memory. Here is URL to story about Jessica's ties to the big mob families:


Here is URL to post about Jessica's ties to a guy who was indicted as one of the ringleaders in an offshore sports-gambling ring:


Anonymous said...

I fail to see how you can slam Jessica Meiros, Bill Pryor, Governor Bentley, John Merrill, and everybody else in the state and then turn around and praise Tim Cook. It is obvious how he got his position, he was most likely Steve Jobs' gay lover. The rumors are rampant that Steve Jobs actually died of AIDS and Tim Cook wanted to donate his liver to him because they shared the same mysterious blood type. It doesn't take much to put two and two together, surely not for a man of your political insight.

Anonymous said...

I know you said you went to court on the Garrison case while in jail on a motion to quash service and the attorney then had you served in jail. I recall you stating reasons you felt that wasn't good service either, but I would like to know what other steps you took in this case after the second service. Did you file any motions or go to court after the deputies took you?

Anonymous said...

@ 3:13, Can you please share a link to the JP Morgan 35k membership story you are referring to? Very interested!

Anonymous said...

Saying Rob Holbert is a hack is an insult to journalistic hacks everywhere. What a lazy, sniveling little brat. His columns are awful.

Anonymous said...

This is @3:13. Not sure I can provide a link because the documents are in Adobe Acrobat, and I don't see a URL for them. But if you Google "JPMorgan Chase and Republican Attorneys General Association," you should find the information in the top 5-10 search results.

legalschnauzer said...

I don't have access to AlaCourt at the moment, so my memory is fuzzy. But I know I attended a second hearing while I was in jail. Can't remember the subject of that hearing, but I do remember that a Jeffco deputy picked me up for that one, and I wound up spending a week at Jeffco Jail for a 30-minute hearing. Shows the incompetence in the system, and the Jeffco Jail is a horrendous place. I can see how people die in there very easily. It makes the Shelby County Jail seem like the Waldorf Astoria.

I attended every hearing for which I received notice in the Garrison case. Again, I haven't seen the file for a while, but I'm told by an attorney that it shows notice was not even sent for the default-judgment hearing. I can't confirm whether it was sent, but I know it was not received, and by law, that means Garrison's $3.5-million judgment is void--and that is a nondiscretionary ruling.

I would suggest you do a little legal research to see what I'm talking about. JMG did not "win" a thing--her default judgment is void.

legalschnauzer said...

You don't see a difference, @3:52, between Tim Cook and the people you mention? Come on, you must be smarter than that. Your list of folks all are public officials or individuals closely tied to public business. Tim Cook is CEO of a corporation (as was Steve Jobs), and even if your claims are true (and I doubt they are) how does that violate law or public policy? It doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Roger have you given any thought to what role Trent Lott might have played in all this. If Holbert is his operative, Lott may be pulling the strings. He also sang in a barbershop quartet with Larry Craig when he was in the Senate, and we all know Craig was busted for lewd behavior in an airport bathroom. Perhaps Lott and Craig were sexually involved as well. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. No wonder they want you silenced Schnauzer.

John Little said...

I enjoyed reading the blog for a while, but now you're losing me. Most everything written nowdays seems to be a self defense related to your personal issues. I sure enjoy seeing politicians exposed and commend you for that. But it's a needless insult to non-lefty readers to come here and have a headline lumping all righties together as dishonest. Perhaps dial that back a bit.

Robby Scott Hill said...

Draft Tim Cook for Governor of Alabama 2018. Sent from my iPhone 5s with hot pink case & rainbow home screen.
Roy Moore's God must be a straight man because a Gay Man or a Woman couldn't screw things up like Roy's God has. Where is Black Jesus when you need Him?

legalschnauzer said...


I think you need to take a second look at the headline. It's jumping right-wing media types who have reported on the Jessica Medeiros Garrison case. I would have included the word media in there somewhere, but it didn't fit. From both the headline and the content, I think it's clear that this is a critique of the right-wing media regarding the Garrison story, not an attack on all righties.

legalschnauzer said...

That's an interesting thought, @10:14. When you add Bill Pryor's ties to 1990s gay porn, then yes, it becomes a curious stew. I was, after all, thrown in jail not long after breaking the Pryor story. And Garrison, who considers Pryor her mentor, sued me with a case that would have to improve to be weak.

On top of that, there has been quite a bit of reporting/conjecture on Jeff Sessions' "personal tendencies," and he's another Mobile type with strong ties to Garrison. In fact, I've been working on a story for some time about Sessions' "personal issues."

I think you are onto something.

Anonymous said...

@ John Little, I too was at first very impressed by Legal Schnauzer's research. However, so far, on this blog recently, I've seen Brandon Falls, Jeff Sessions, and others mentioned as potential future expose material. I've actually worked for both of them and not in the manner of Jessica Medeiros Garrison, and as far as my brief period of employment with them is concerned; I actually hold them in high estimation. Some of the better public servants out there.

Anonymous said...

@10:14 — The Trent Lott/Larry Craig barbershop quartet thing was a joke dumbass. At this point it's clear you'll believe anything and print anything. You need medication. But by all means, get cracking on that hard-hitting barbershop quartet exposé.

Anonymous said...

Your family must be very proud of your accomplishments. Nice legacy.

legalschnauzer said...

What legacy would that be?