Monday, January 22, 2018

Daily Caller's shoddy journalism on Jessica Garrison's $3.5-million default judgment has its roots in reporter's racist and misogynistic background

Tucker Carlson
Thanks to The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, we know The Daily Caller's (DC) shoddy reporting on Jessica Medeiros Garrison's $3.5-million default judgment against me was not an accident; that's the kind of journalism you get when you hire "reporters" with training at a racist and misogynistic blog. We also know the DC and reporter Chuck Ross have connections to some dubious characters in the right-wing blogosphere.

All of this is timely because my wife, Carol, and I have two pending federal lawsuits -- "The Jail Case," involving my unlawful incarceration in Alabama, and "The House Case," involving the theft of our Birmingham home of 25 years via a wrongful foreclosure -- and Garrison is a defendant in both of them, as is her one-time boss and paramour, former U.S. Sen. Luther Strange.

Here is an update on the two lawsuits: Service is almost completed in district court (Birmingham) on "The Jail Case," and responsive pleadings are flowing in from defendants. Most will seek unlawful dismissal via the notorious "Twombly" and "Iqbal" heightened-pleading standards -- which do not even apply in the Eleventh Circuit, but defendants surely will lean on them anyway. "The House Case" is on appeal in circuit court (Atlanta), and it has been delayed by a technical mistake I made on our Notice of Appeal. I've filed a Petition for Panel Rehearing, and The Eleventh Circuit's affirmance should be overturned, followed by reversal of Judge R. David Proctor's dismissal (that's the Proctor who is super close to Trump AG Jeff Sessions). That, of course, depends on appellate judges in Atlanta acting with integrity and showing respect for black-letter law -- and that is a huge if. I soon will be writing about my mistake that caused a delay in "The House Case," although it should have no impact on the ultimate outcome of case.

As for Chuck Ross' wretched article on the Garrison judgment -- which flowed from her lawsuit about my reporting on her extramarital affair with Luther Strange, for whom she once served as campaign manager -- it's bad on more than a half dozen levels. Here is one indicator of biased reporting: Neither Ross nor the DC has attempted a follow-up on former Alabama Senate President Lowell Barron and his statements that Garrison and Strange, in fact, had an extramarital affair that had a profound impact on Strange's ability to function as Alabama attorney general.

Has Garrison filed a defamation lawsuit against Lowell Barron? The answer is no. Is that because she knows his statements and my reporting are accurate. The answer is, without question, yes.

What about the hatchet job Garrison concocted with the assistance of Marie Claire, a Hearst-owned fashion magazine? That exercise in defamation is one of the subjects in our lawsuits. Have Chuck Ross or the DC pursued any of these angles to the story? We've seen no sign of it. Is that because Jessica Garrison works for the DC? Probably. That's "fair and balanced" right-wing "journalism" for you.

What about other shortcomings in Ross' story on the Garrison judgment? We addressed them in a July 2015 post. First, we showed that Wyoming-based investment guru Foster Friess kicked in $3 million to help get The Daily Caller off the ground. According to online reports, DC founder Tucker Carlson also lined up sponsorships from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association (Drummond Company), and Southern Company (parent of Alabama Power). Garrison used to work at Alabama Power law firm Balch Bingham, until the Birmingham Superfund scandal started getting too close, so that might explain her ability to get her opinion pieces published at DC.

Ali Akbar's profile at Grindr
We also showed that Friess 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, along with Karl Rove's American Crossroads. It's not clear if the NBC still is functional, but it once was headed by a felon named Ali Akbar, who has a documented taste for criminality and trolling for gay sex. More on this scuzzy bunch in a moment. But first, from our earlier post, are just a few of the problems with Chuck Ross' piece on the Garrison judgment:

What kind of journalism does Foster Friess support? If The Daily Caller story is any indication, the journalism would have to improve to reach the level of shoddy. In fact, I'm not sure you can call it journalism at all, based on the following:

* 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.)

As for the National Bloggers Club, Foster Friess' other foray into right-wing "journalism," it apparently has collapsed from the weight of its own sleaze. And what a load of sleaze it was. (Note: The NBC's Web site says a relaunch is coming in July 2016, but it's not clear if said relaunch ever happened, and there appears to be no new content on the site.) From our earlier 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.

Speaking of Tucker Carlson, WaPo's Erik Wemple recently conducted a lengthy and contentious interview with the Fox News host. Much of that interview focused on Chuck Ross' background and other political/media topics. Carlson more or less closed the interview with this: "It’s great to talk to you! Call me any time, I’m always around."

If Wemple takes Carlson up on that, here are just a few of the follow-up questions that come to mind:

* Is Carlson aware that one of the DC's contributors, Ali Akbar, has a criminal record?

* Does the DC plan to write a story about Akbar's criminal record?

* What about Akbar's documented trolling for gay sex on Grindr?

* What ties did Daily Caller have to the National Bloggers Club?

* Does Daily Caller plan to report on Jessica Garrison's default judgment -- and the fact it is void, as a matter of law, and can be attacked as such at any time?

* Does Daily Caller plan to report on Garrison's exit from the Republican Attorneys General Association in the wake of a New York Times expose, plus her exit from Balch Bingham law firm amid reports of Luther Strange's ties to the Birmingham Superfund scandal?

* Will Daily Caller report that almost all of Garrison's default judgment is based on false assertions she made, under oath, that I reported Luther Strange was the biological father of her son -- when, in fact, I never reported any such information?

* Will Daily Caller attempt to have Jessica Garrison's divorce file unsealed and report on its contents?

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