Skip to comments.Judge Dismisses [Baltimore] Sun Suit Against [MD Governor] Ehrlich
Posted on 02/14/2005 10:18:07 AM PST by nunya bidness
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the order by Governor Ehrlich barring state employees from contact with two Sun writers.
U-S District Court Judge William Quarles said in his order he was dismissing the case filed by The Sun because The Sun was seeking more access to government officials than that accorded a private citizen. The judge wrote, "The Sun seeks the declaration of a constitutional right that neither the Supreme Court nor the Fourth Circuit has recognized."
The judge also ruled the The Sun could not demonstrate irreparable harm or the likelihood of success in the case on its merits.
Sun editor Tim Franklin says he's disappointed by the decision and says The Sun is weighing a possible appeal.
Governor Ehrlich, at an event in suburban Washington, said he would not comment on the dismissal until he can review the court decision.
The Ehrlich administration issued the order last fall, barring state employees from talking to the Sun's State House bureau chief David Nitkin and columnist Michael Olesker.
Ehrlich said the two journalists were not objectively covering his administration.
The Sun brought the suit in December, asking that the order be lifted, claiming it viiolates the First Amendment rights of Nitkin and Olesker, because it denied them the same opportunities to get information as other news organizations and citizens.
Susan McIntire, Towson: Do you really believe that [Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich [Jr.] had never heard of the rumors, as he was quoted in The Sun?
Nitkin: Susan, Gov. Ehrlich has now refined his answer, and has said "you have to have been under a rock" not to have heard the rumor. He blames his earlier answer about saying he had never heard the rumor on the swirl of questions surrounding him one day last week.
Alisa Bralove-Scherr, Owings Mills: What is The Sun's rationale for not reporting on the rumor sooner? It's been out there for quite a while, and whether it's true or false, hasn't the existence of it been news for some time now?
Nitkin: Alisa, let's distinguish between "reporting" on the rumor and actually publishing a story on it. The Sun did investigate tips it received surrounding the rumor, and, it is safe to say, none of them have been verified. But even if they had been, there is no guarantee a story would have appeared in the paper.
After pursuing the reporting and finding evidence, there would have been a whole series of discussions about whether the information would have warranted a news story. Factors we would have considered would have been whether the situation was some sort of violation of public -- not just private -- trust; and whether public resources were involved or impacted.
Susan Steele, Baltimore: If Steffen was just "reporting" on rumors that he heard, who (specifically) was he hearing it from and where did that person(s) get the "information"?
Nitkin: Susan, it sure is hard to find the one, single person who was the originator of a story or rumor. Who started the story about Mikey, the Life cereal kid, dying after eating Pop Rocks? Suffice to say, the rumor is out there. There is no proof yet that Steffen was the source of it.
Bob Price, Lutherville: In his Feb. 10 column, [The Sun's] Dan Rodricks wrote that Joe Steffen is the "source of ... rumors" about Martin O'Malley. Has it been established or is there any evidence that Steffen is the "source" of the rumors rather than merely one of perhaps thousands of people who have been repeating a rumor that has been circulating for years?
Nitkin: Bob, no. There is no solid evidence that Steffen is the source of the rumors. In fact, posters on the FreeRepublic Web site, which Steffen was using, note that it would be a strange tactic to use a site devoted national politics to spread what is really a local or regional rumor.
Jeff Wilson, Baltimore: If the rumors about the mayor have been going around for months, how come it is coming out now that somebody from a rival party mentions it?
Nitkin: Jeff, the reason The Sun published the story last week was because the governor immediately forced the resignation of his aide, Steffen, after learning he had posted e-mails about the rumor. The information was provided to the governor by The Washington Post, which, likely, would have published a story that day even if Steffen had not been forced to resign, based on being able to link Steffen to the Internet postings.
For The Sun, the firing was the triggering, newsworthy event. Additionally, we followed up because O'Malley spoke publicly the next day for the first time, addressing the rumors and refuting them. We did not publish a story prior to last week because the rumors were just that -- rumors, and unsubstantiated ones at that.
Ray Van de Castle, Hanover, Pa.: This sounds like something Karl Rove would push from his White House office; is there any connection between Steffen and Rove -- maybe a seminar on dirty politics?
Nitkin: Ray, that's an interesting question. There is a connection between Steffen and Lee Atwater through the National Conservative Political Action Committee, where Steffen used to work. After [Baltimore Mayor Martin] O'Malley's re-election last year, Senate President Mike Miller sent the mayor a copy of a lengthy Atlantic magazine article on Rove and his tactics, and told the mayor "this is what you are up against." We know of no connection between Steffen and Rove.
Hit your lists if you got 'em.
I sent this post to you, did you get it? We need this kinda stuff in MD.
"There was a great article in the atlantic (lib mag my wife reads) about Rove. The writer whines all about Roves tricks, but they work and he is a genius. He got a rumor started about this dem judge who gave a lot of money to a charity for kids, so they took those pictures of the judge with the kids and said he was a gay pedophile. It worked.
Check it out: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200411/green
I'm sure that this lawsuit and the result will in no way affect how the paper covers the governor and his administration (yeah, try not to laugh too hard).
It doesn't take a smart man to try to entice Steffen to admit to hearing rumors. But the Atlantic article is the key to this and the Sun has now published that Miller mentioned the article. That's a link.
Is Miller known as 926er over at the Balt'o Sun forum? that poster also referenced the same Atlantic article. The style stuck me as being similar to that of MD4Bush.
I saw that you mentioned that previously. I'll go check out the screename now. Do you have any idea the symbolism of the name "926er"?
I had it a bit wrong, the actual handle is dc925er.
That may indeed have symbolism. It could signify a person who is in DC but hails from Alameda County, a suburb of SF.
Your mention of that person has prompted a response: http://www.baltimoresun2.com/talk/showthread.php?p=208614
It's a comment by dc925er on a thread started by a poster by the name of Jack Dublin who announces he/she is no longer posting under his/her name:
As of today, I will not post under the handle Jack Dublin. Although many times I voiced my real opinions under this name, I also just as often used Jack Dublin as a fictitious character to write satire, intentionally controversial opinions, and just to stir the pot. But in the current climate created by the postings of Joseph F. Steffen Jr., I have decided that it would be best from now on to only post as my self, and I should only voice real opinions.
Although it appears Steffen was voicing real opinions under his handle, I would like to avoid any confusion or complications in the future between what I actually think on any subject and what I say behind an imaginary character.
I think the Steffen scandal is the beginning of the end to the anonymous and often times anything goes forums on the Web. I believe any postings one may make under an anonymous name, that are deemed controversial by whomever, despite privacy agreements, may begin to become fodder in the dirty little wars we all face from day to day in our professional and personal lives. That is too bad. Our nation was founded in part on the anonymous writings in the Federalist Papers (ala Publius). But in a modern world where humor is sometimes confused with personal sentiment and opinion and debate can be construed as negativity, prejudice, or worse, I would rather stand on my own good name than the musings of a created persona.
Ill miss you Jack. Its been fun.
This was posted on 2/10/05. Notice that dc925er spaced out the word "freeper"? Is that a way to keep Google's spiders from making a hit? (that's the question for you JohnRob).
And people wonder why, as a Maryland resident, I refuse to subscribe to the B.S. newspaper.
bump for later read
dc925er mentions it's creepy ... heck, I think it's VERY creepy that they found my post on that other thread so quickly!
We ... are .... being .... watched! :=)
Mike Miller is too full of himself to bother doing dirty tricks like this. Another elite and arrogant Marylander.