I went to work on a blog post, filled with filial umbrage, saddened that the Man once again had used a boot heel to crush truth and free speech. But after doing a little reporting, I began to think that what scanned as an example of a rich businessman using the power of the courts to silence his critic was actually something else: a case of a blogger using the Web in unaccountable ways to decimate the reputation of someone who didn’t seem to have it coming.A number of people asked me in the course of discussing my article on this whether Crystal Cox was actually onto something, whether there was some truth the allegations. Here's some of what Carr found after his reporting:
The ruling on whether she was a journalist in the eyes of the law turned out to be a MacGuffin, a detail that was very much beside the point. She didn’t so much report stories as use blogging, invective and search engine optimization to create an alternative reality. Journalists who initially came to her defense started to back away when they realized they weren’t really in the same business.
None of [Cox's allegations were] ever proved, nor was it picked up by other mainstream media outlets.I've reached the limits of fair use. Read the article.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but there is nothing in Mr. Padrick’s professional history or the public record that I found to suggest he is any of those things. He was appointed as a trustee by the court, he was subjected to an F.B.I. background check, and there have been no criminal investigations into his conduct. About 85 percent of the funds have been returned to the creditors, which seems to be a good result.
Annie Buell, the chairwoman of the Official Unsecured Creditors Committee who was appointed by the United States Trustee’s Office, said in an interview by phone that there was no basis in fact for Ms. Cox’s scabrous postings about Mr. Padrick.
“He did a very good job for the creditors,” she said. “He was above board, had all of his cards on the table and was competent and fair. If I ever was in the same situation again, he would be my first choice.” Lawyers I spoke with who had done business with Mr. Padrick used similar adjectives to describe him.
The other thing I wanted to highlight was the judge's discussion of what constituted a "journalist" for purposes of the correct defamation law standard. He suggested a test including:
(1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest; (4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted; (5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources; (6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others; or (7) contacting "the other side" to get both sides of a story.What warrants clarification is that Judge Hernandez wasn't saying "you need to check off all seven items to count," but rather that these were factors to be evaluated as a whole to determine when someone is acting as a journalist. On the whole, I think it's a fair test.