|Charles J. Dean
Charles J. Dean, of al.com, manages to pull off that neat trick in an article titled "Separating rumor from fact and remembering don't believe everything you read."
Dean's article is so poorly written--and al.com apparently no longer can afford to employ copy editors to clean up reporters' messes--that it's hard to tell what he's trying to say. But here is my best guess at his key points: (1) Reports are false that Rebekah Caldwell Mason, adviser and mistress to Governor Robert Bentley, left the state to work on the presidential campaign of Ohio Governor John Kasich; (2) Reports are false that Bentley legal adviser David Byrne has resigned; (3) An unnamed "blogger," apparently me, is responsible for these journalistic transgressions.
There is a slight problem with Dean's apparent claims: I've never reported that Mason went to work for the Kasich campaign, and I've never reported that Byrne resigned from the Bentley staff. In other words, Dean engages in the very inaccurate reporting that he attempts to decry.
On top of that, Dean fails to disclose to his readers the likely reason for his personal animosity toward me and this blog. In summary, Dean's reporting is inaccurate, sloppy, poorly written, and deceptive. Are we supposed to take this guy as a paragon of journalistic virtue?
Dean starts by informing us that a political interest group called Forward Alabama had posted on the Web about Mason's alleged work for the Kasich campaign. This leads Dean to tsk, tsk as follows:
A so-called progressive political group "Forward Alabama" didn't make up that post to Facebook. They picked it up from a blogger who must be part of the so-called "political insiders" group.
Who is the blogger in question, how does Dean know Forward Alabama picked up the Mason-Kasich story from him (or her), and what is this "so-called political insiders group"? Dean doesn't bother to enlighten us on any of that.
He does tsk tsk again on the subject of Byrne's alleged resignation. Writes Dean:
Of course the blogger who originally posted that Mason was working for Kasich had also posted that Bentley's chief legal advisor, David Byrne was resigning and implied it was over the unsubstantiated rumor that a romantic relationship between Bentley and Mason is why Diane Bentley is divorcing her husband of 50 years.
And by the way, Byrne was also in the hallways of the Legislature working too – for Bentley. He has not resigned.
Dean again mentions an unnamed blogger and leaves all sorts of questions unanswered. Based on my research, both the Kasich and Byrne stories originated with Alabama lawyer Donald Watkins, who has written extensively about Bentley/Mason affair on his Facebook page.
Dean never mentions Watkins by name, but he does write the following, which clearly is a reference to me:
We live in an age where anybody with a computer and an internet connection can post anything, including one blogger who has written about Bentley and Mason. That blogger, by the way, has been sued for defamation and jailed on related contempt of court charges. A Jefferson County judge in April ruled against the blogger and awarded the woman he had defamed by writing she had had an affair with a state official $3.5 million.
This is one of the few parts of Dean's article where the writing is clear; he's referring to a pair of defamation lawsuits filed against me in fall 2013, roughly one month apart, by Republican operatives Rob Riley and Jessica Medeiros Garrison. Dean, of course, conveniently leaves out a few facts:
(1) The contempt-of-court finding that led to my incarceration in the Riley matter was contrary to more than 200 years of First Amendment law, and even right-leaning legal analysts have written that it was blatantly unlawful. A paragon of journalistic integrity, such as Chuck Dean, should know his First Amendment law.
(2) The $3.5-million figure in the Garrison case was a default judgment, which grew from my unlawful incarceration and the wrongful foreclosure on our house, which made it impossible for me to defend myself. In other words, the judgment is not supported by law or facts, the plaintiffs' version of events never has been challenged under oath in a court of law, and my reporting in neither case never has been found to be false or defamatory by a jury. In fact, neither case went to a jury.
Why is Chuck Dean so quick to trash me? Well, it's almost certainly because I recently outed him for participating in the Ashley Madison extramarital-affair Web site. I also asked this question: Has Chuck Dean been reluctant to report on the Bentley-Mason affair because he himself has engaged in--or tried to engage in--extramarital activity via Ashley Madison?
Before publishing my article, I gave Dean an opportunity to comment and to answer questions such as the one above. He chose not to respond.
Before trashing me, did Chuck Dean offer to interview me, to give me an opportunity to respond to questions he might have? Did Dean even bother to check the court files to discover the facts about the cases in question? Nope, Chuck Dean did none of that.
We are supposed to learn something about journalistic integrity from this guy? It's apparent he knows no more about journalistic integrity than he knows about marital integrity.
At least there is an element of truth to the headline on Chuck Dean's story. You absolutely should not believe everything you read--especially if Chuck Dean is writing it.