In what would have been a jaw-dropping display of sheer chutzpah were it not for a surprise gift of immunity from a prominent non-profit two years ago, GateHouse Media
chief counsel Polly Sack supplied a sophisticated, global audience with the clearest evidence of simple textbook libel that most reporters will ever see.
English: Ford County Courthouse in Dodge City, Kansas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The third of three documents that, together, constitute nothing short of proof, Sack’s 2010 letter to the New Yorker Magazine also adds the surreal quality of what appear to be unescessary lies: GateHouse, which owns about 400 small-to-midsize newspapers and shoppers had essentially been handed immunity by former Reporter’s Committee for a Free Press director Lucy Dalglish, now dean of the U. of Maryland’s J-School.
The GateHouse Get-Out-of Bar-Sanctions-Free Card is Dalglish’s Feb. 10 statement to the AP, a very deliberate fabrication that denies my truthful description of the corporation’s attempts to force me to name a confidential source under oath. Dalglish’s status and influence easily trumped my word, getting GateHouse off the hook with the mainstream media and all but a few blogs, only one of which was national.
One wonders why Sack would risk another easily proven lie, given such carte blanc insurance by Dalglish. Either she was concerned about the remaining trail of evidence carelessly littered by GateHouse executives, attorneys, publishers, and editors – or the confidence engendered by an unexpected and formidable ally like the RCFP went to her head.
English: Longhorn Statute on Front Street, Dodge City, Kansas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The first of the three documents listed above is a sharply worded GateHouse rebuttal of my Feb. 10 statement to the Associated Press, in which I alleged that Gatehouse had attempted to force me to reveal a confidential source by refusing to provide me with legal counsel if I didn’t comply with Ford County (Kansas) District Attorney Terry Malone. The corporation insisted that it had provided me with free, independent, confidential counsel from the beginning of the case through its conclusion.
This complete fabrication is a testament to the growing strength of a chillingly cozy relationship between national First Amendment/Free Press advocates and corporate media, controlling multiple platforms.
Dodge City Train Station, Kansas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The second is the weak-kneed but nevertheless clear acknowledgement of the truthfulness of my claims, written by Dalglish almost two and a half months after she’d publically disputed them, following a conference call with myself and Legal Times reporter Tony Mauro. The latter was then the president of the steering committee of the non-profit that employed Dalglish for over a decade, the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Astonishingly, the New Yorker story ran 20 days AFTER Dalglish had already clarified the facts as I’d presented them . True, her ambivalent tone and extraordinary choice of “public” placement re. her statement raise many questions – she hid it in the RCFP archives, rather than send it out as a press release, and about seven months later all references to my case that could prove damaging to Lucy had disappeared. (Fortunately, I have sufficient documentation without them). Nevertheless, powerhouse corporate attorney Sack’s disregard of a public, signed statement is very significant. It indicates either a status quo, which means that one night a couple of years ago, our free press disappeared out the back gate. Or if such flagrant contempt is not the norm, what factors engendered this extraordinary abuse of power, and allowed it to be employed with such lethal and unremitting force against a lone reporter for a small daily with a geographically remote readership? Is the failure of my peers to speak out as significant as it appears to me to be?
Dodge City maintains part of its downtown as a tourist attraction, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Finally, how the hell did one person – regardless of ability and character attain a level of power over a press like America‘s? Sure, it has to watched like a hawk, and sometimes (okay, too often) the press needs a good kick. Still, I’ve always thought we averaged out to do a pretty good, even decent job for the people we’re supposed to serve.
Evidently, the biggest censor of the press is the press itself.
The New Yorker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ms. Sack writes to the New Yorker:
RE: INCIDENT IN DODGE CITY
A letter in response to Calvin Trillin’s article (May 10, 2010)
JUNE 7, 2010
Calvin Trillin offers a probing examination of the complex network of social forces surrounding a shooting death in Dodge City (“Incident in Dodge City,” May 10th). Our former reporter Claire O’Brien played an important role in his story, and the subpoena issued to her allowed GateHouse Media to vigorously defend its belief in the principle that journalists should not be conscripted into the criminal-justice system as witnesses based on legitimate news gathering. After the Kansas Supreme Court declined to determine the reporter’s privilege issue and refused to grant a stay of O’Brien’s compulsory testimony, O’Brien was repeatedly advised that it was her decision alone whether to testify. However, we did cover the costs of her lawyer—whom you identify as “volunteer”—throughout the process. And although O’Brien’s employment with GateHouse Media was terminated, the termination was for reasons wholly unrelated to the fight over the subpoena or related issues.
Polly Grunfeld Sack
Does Sack truly believe that the RCFP paid attorney Mark Johnson under the table with small, unmarked bills? The Daily Globe ran an A1 photo of Johnson on the Ford County courthouse steps identifying him as independently retained – and the RCFP took full credit for retaining him!
This map of Ford County, Kansas, USA, is copied at a resolution of 300 pixels/inch from the original PDF file. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)