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broadcasters

Mallory Musallam had been a plaintiff in a class-action suit seeking minimum wage and overtime against the talk-show host on behalf of former interns. Now she has apologized and withdrawn her name, saying “lawsuit-hungry attorneys” had approached her at “a weak vulnerable time, facing student debt” and talked her into taking part in an action whose exact nature she didn’t recognize. “I cannot apologize enough for this debacle. I do not believe in getting something for nothing — that’s not how I was raised.” Her “now-former lawyer, Lloyd Ambinder, did not return a call for comment.” [N.Y. Daily News]

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Reality-TV attempt to break world record for “Fastest Time to Jump Through 10 Panes of Tempered Glass” does not end well, money sought [Mike Heuer, Courthouse News]

“A New York man who was caught sleeping at a recent Yankees game against the Red Sox on ESPN is filing a $10 million defamation suit against broadcasters Dan Shulman and John Kruk for their ‘avalanche of disparaging words,’ according to the New York Post.” Andrew Robert Rector’s complaint over the broadcasters’ “vituperative utterances” appears to have been translated awkwardly into English from some other language, a sample sentence reading: “It is well known that rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox is always the biggest in all of sport.” [Sporting News]

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“A woman using a Grand Central Terminal stairwell fell and broke her ankle last year because a spooky advertisement for the [Showtime serial-killer] series startled her, a new lawsuit charges. Ajanaffy Njewadda and her husband, a former Gambian ambassador, are suing the MTA and the cable network, accusing them of placing the ad in a dangerous spot for pedestrians.” [James Fanelli, DNAInfo New York]

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Four U.S. Senators are hectoring the Golden Globe Awards over stars’ televised use of e-cigarettes. “We ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC Universal to take actions to ensure that future broadcasts of the Golden Globes do not intentionally feature images of e-cigarettes,” wrote the humorless bossyboots in question, Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Edward Markey (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), all Democrats. [Reuters] More: Sally Satel (“It didn’t seem as though it really proved to be a gateway to anything.”)

Speaking of glamor, don’t miss Virginia Postrel’s appearance at Cato next Wednesday to discuss her book The Power of Glamour: Persuasion, Longing, and Individual Aspiration. You can register here.

“Buzz off, Waxman”

by Walter Olson on January 10, 2014

“…Congress can’t tell a newspaper how to do business.” [Jack Shafer, Reuters; my 2011 take on Rep. Henry Waxman's fall from his committee chairmanship]

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Per activist group Blue Oregon, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) should yank radio station KPOJ’s license because its owner dropped progressive talk shows and switched instead to a sports format. “Clear Channel must air programming that is responsive to the needs and problems of its local community. That’s us. We’re the community,” the group says. More: Willamette Week.

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…many of them too readily employ DMCA takedown requests to keep the public from perusing the offending clips. [Kristin Bergman, Digital Media Law Project]

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The airline has “dropped its threat to sue a local TV station” after a much-forwarded on-air gaffe [Will Kane, SFGate; Erik Wemple, WaPo (calling threat "idiotic")]

More: meanwhile, the TV station appears to be using copyright takedowns to get the offending video removed from YouTube [Matthew Keys]

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A New Jersey man claims that he was injured by an insomnia therapy recommended on TV by the high-profile Dr. Mehmet Oz, involving the use of microwave-heated raw rice in a bag to warm the feet. Instead the man got third-degree burns, according to his lawsuit. [Associated Press/NJ.com]

A county official in Florida says two now-suspended radio DJs, Val St. John and Scott Fish, could face felony charges over an April Fool’s running gag in which they warned listeners that local tap water contained “dihydrogen monoxide,” another way of describing water. “My understanding is it is a felony to call in a false water quality issue,” said Lee County public information officer Diane Holm: “They will have to deal with the circumstances.” As for the suspension itself, “We take our FCC license very seriously,” said a VP of the broadcasting company. [WTSP] (& Patterico)

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April 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 23, 2012

  • Fearful of adverse Supreme Court ruling, Department of Justice said to have exercised pressure on city of St. Paul to buckle in housing-disparate-impact case [Kevin Funnell]
  • Justice Janice Rogers Brown: we can dream, can’t we? [Weigel] The Brown/Sentelle opinion everyone’s talking about, questioning rational basis review of economic regulation [Hettinga v. U.S., milk regulations; Fisher, Kerr]
  • Claim: “The Bachelor” TV franchise discriminates on basis of race [Jon Hyman]
  • Chicago sold off municipal parking garages. Good. It also promised to disallow proposals for private parking nearby. Not good [Urbanophile]
  • Bad day in court for Zimmerman prosecution [Tom Maguire, more, Merritt]
  • “I want some systematic contacts wherever your long arm can reach” — hot-’n’-heavy CivPro music video satire [ConcurOp, language]
  • Federal judge dismisses charge against man who advocated jury nullification outside courthouse [Lynch, Sullum, earlier]

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In one of the standout instances of media misconduct during the run-up to the recent furor, NBC repeatedly aired, on “Today” and other shows, audio footage misleadingly edited so as to advance the proposition that George Zimmerman was suspicious of Trayvon Martin because of his race [Erik Wemple, Washington Post] While announcing that it had fired the unnamed producer it considered responsible, NBC was less than forthcoming about other details of the scandal, which — as Mickey Kaus points out — may have had a lot to do with its lawyers’ concerns about minimizing a possible defamation payout: “Like other tort laws, libel laws are in practice the enemy of transparency.”

Some have recalled the scandal in which “Dateline NBC” aired footage of supposedly exploding GM cars that in fact had been rigged with incendiary devices. But I’m actually more put in mind of a less celebrated media disgrace from the same era, the Texaco Tapes pseudo-scandal, in which (as I recount here) the New York Times and other outlets avidly promoted systematic misreadings of audiotapes in a hotly disputed racial-bias case, and failed to engage in adequate (or, really, any) soul-searching when the misreadings came to be exposed. In the Martin/Zimmerman case the questionable audio readings included the “two-shot” account influentially advanced by the New York Times when the case first broke nationally, and the supposed racial slur which dominated coverage for a couple of days before being (if the prosecutor’s affidavit is any indication) discreetly laid to rest.

More: Speaking of the New York Times, you have to wonder whether that paper has some sort of stylebook rule requiring it to keep misreporting what Stand Your Ground laws do [Jacob Sullum, more, earlier] And Tom Maguire notes that the paper’s latest editorial appear to be backing off its earlier assertions that the Zimmerman case will hinge on the state’s curtailing of the old “duty to retreat”: “The duty to retreat evidently extends to Times editors.” He also wonders whether, on the much-discussed question of whether Zimmerman flouted the advice of a 911 operator, the NYT editorialists read their own paper. Yet more: Maguire collects the media myths.

I have a new post at Cato rounding up many of my recent writings and broadcast appearances on the subject, under the title, “Why Is Press Coverage of the Martin/Zimmerman Case So Bad?”

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on March 10, 2012

  • Berkeley: “Police chief sends sergeant to reporter’s home after midnight to demand article revision” [Poynter] In 1932, a New York Congressman convened a hearing to blast theater critics for harming the welfare of Broadway shows [Philip Scranton, Bloomberg]
  • “Blasphemy and free speech” [Paul Marshall, Hillsdale "Imprimis," PDF] “Egyptian Christian Imprisoned for 6 Years for Insulting Mohammed” [Volokh]
  • What is it about Montana and election free speech these days? [Volokh] Judge denies Ron Paul campaign request to unmask source of anti-Huntsman video [Paul Alan Levy, earlier] “Eliot Spitzer Bucks Liberal Orthodoxy: ‘Citizens United Was Correct’” [TheDC] If you rely on the NY Times for what you know about Citizens United, you’re probably misinformed [Wendy Kaminer, Atlantic]
  • “In which Ben Bagdikian, alleged scourge of media monopolies, frets at the possibility of more TV channels” [BBC via Jesse Walker]
  • Guernsey as a haven for libel tourism? [Annie Machon] “Someday I will commission a study of the relationship between defamation lawsuit threats and illiteracy.” [@Popehat on Gawker item]
  • “Key Techdirt SOPA/PIPA Post Censored By Bogus DMCA Takedown Notice” [Mike Masnick]
  • Overly aggressive trademark lawyers? “Their mothers love them too, in a prone-to-sudden-weeping sort of way.” [Popehat; earlier on Louis Vuitton v. Penn Law case]

A fired Florida TV anchorman claims whistleblowing retaliation [Fort Myers News-Press]

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July 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 7, 2011

  • Correct result, yet potential for mischief in latest SCOTUS climate ruling [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, my earlier take]
  • Wouldn’t even want to guess: how the Howard Stern show handles sexual harassment training [Hyman]
  • Philadelphia: $21 million award against emergency room handling noncompliant patient [Kennerly]
  • Antitrust assault on Google seems geared to protect competitors more than consumers [Josh Wright]
  • “They knew there was a risk!” Curb your indignation please [Coyote]
  • Theme issue of Reason magazine on failures of criminal justice system is now online;
  • “Why Your New Car Doesn’t Have a Spare Tire” [Sam Kazman, WSJ]

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Disabled-rights lawyers said the suit against the news network “is the first in the nation to seek equal treatment for the deaf from a commercial content provider on the Internet.” Expect many others to follow. [Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle]

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May 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 20, 2011

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