Rep. Mike Rogers' Staff Insists They Never Said I Defamed Him... And Then Reveal The Reporter They Apparently Never Said It To

from the um... dept

I'm beginning to wonder if Representative Mike Rogers needs slightly more competent staffers (note to my new friends in Mike Rogers' office: that is a statement of opinion). As you may recall, earlier this week, I wrote about how a reporter had told me that, when he questioned Rogers' staff about certain comments I had made concerning Rogers' views and actions on cybersecurity and internet surveillance, they had claimed that my comments were defamatory and that they "could" sue me for them. That got a little bit of attention, because, you know, when a former FBI agent, now elected Congressman, who's in charge of the House Intelligence Committee, makes an implied threat designed to intimidate a critic... that's really not a very good thing.

The folks over at The Daily Dot followed up on the story, and asked Rogers' staff to comment on the situation, and got back something rather incredible:
Kelsey Knight, a spokesperson for Rogers, denied that anyone on the congressman's staff made such comments.

"Nobody made this claim," Knight told the Daily Dot.

Knight went on to identify the reporter the comments were supposedly made to, Christopher Behnan of the Livingston Daily. Behnan would not comment on this story, but referred the Daily Dot to Rogers' chief of staff, Andrew Hawkins. The Daily Dot reached out to Rogers' office for a direct comment from Hawkins, but had not received a response as of late Thursday afternoon.
It's important to note that, throughout this process, I never once named Behnan or his publication. I didn't even mention to my own colleagues who the reporter was. So... Rogers staff did not claim that my comments were defamatory to Behnan... but they magically know that Behnan is the reporter they didn't make the claim to? How does that work?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    Uh Oh!!

    Seems like someone might be heading for the door, except they might not be able to figure out who to show the door to.

     

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  2.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:24pm

    Perk #13 of Honesty: Never having to deal with shooting your own lies in the back

    'We most certainly never implied that someone critical of Rep. Rogers had possibly posted, and may be sued for, defamatory statements, in an attempt to intimidate them into silence. Had we done so though, this is the guy we said it to...'

    Brilliant, just... brilliant.

     

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  3.  
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    Nigel (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    DOH..

    Pretty funny stuff.

    Nigel

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:45pm

    Keen observations, Mike. :)

     

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  5.  
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    mmrtnt (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:57pm

    Practiced Response

    I, what?

     

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  6.  
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    S. T. Stone, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:14pm

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, should mark the last time you ever hear from Kelsey Knight in their capacity as a staff member for Representative Mike Rogers.

    Then again, given this blunder, we might hear from them again in due time as an actual Representative.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:38pm

    Well, assuming we can all take our conspiracy theory hats off for a moment...

    The staffers, I'm guessing, probably don't talk to reporters all the time about Mike Masnick from Techdirt. They did not deny talking about Mike Masnick or Techdirt at all. So if someone said to them "hey Mike Masnick from Techdirt says you were threatening him via some reporter" and they had talked to only one reporter about Techdirt recently (maybe ever), which reporter are they going to think it is?

    I also love how this post elevates the threat...now it's not coming from some low-level staffer, it's coming from the congressperson himself. This is a common Techdirt line of sensationalism, though...any offhand comment made by the lowest level employee of any organization is taken as the official position of the organization as a whole. As long, of course, as the organization is on the outs with the groupthink and the comment isn't flattering.

     

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  8.  
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    mischab1, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:46pm

    To play devil's advocate, Behnan might be the only reporter Rogers' staff has talked to recently about Masnick. Even if he wasn't the only one they talked to, he still might be the only one to whom they called Masnick an 'extreme liberal'.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:47pm

    Funny how some folk like to run their trap only to deny it later. This really gives them credibility in the public sphere.

     

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  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:51pm

    Re:

    I'm not sure why that's a "devil's advocate" position since it's the obvious and logical explanation. I guess it doesn't stroke any Techdirt egos as much as the big evil conspiracy explanation...

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    Mike Rogers is so full of defamation I think he defamated in his pants.

     

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  12.  
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    davnel, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:10pm

    Reminds me of the Bill Cosby story of the metal shop where some student put a bullet in the furnace, which went off of course. Under later questioning the teacher said something like:

    "You know, puting a bullet in the furnace reflects badly on your mother."

    To which one student replied:

    "I didn't put that bullet in the furnace, and you keep my mother out of it!"
    .

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:11pm

    How indeed?

    It's important to note that, throughout this process, I never once named Behnan or his publication. I didn't even mention to my own colleagues who the reporter was. So... Rogers staff did not claim that my comments were defamatory to Behnan... but they magically know that Behnan is the reporter they didn't make the claim to? How does that work?

    That's classified. Nothing to see here, citizen. Move along now...

     

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  14.  
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    Gareth, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:20pm

    Re:

    ...aaaaand now we've heard from Rep. Rogers office....

    Come on, guys... TRY to disguise it, at least.

     

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  15.  
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    CK20XX, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:22pm

    Re:

    Those are all good points. It's nice to see thoughtful and well-written dissenting opinions like this.

    Trying to prove that these points apply to a crooked individual though... that's the hard part. Even if it is just a big misunderstanding, that doesn't help the case of someone with quite the sordid history.

     

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  16. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:42pm

    "How does that work?" Maybe they asked Behnan if he'd told you that!

    That's one entirely obvious explanation that doesn't require a conspiracy by several people over a trivial claim.

    You sure are attempting to gin up your own relevancy and victimization, despite lack of any proof, let alone a lawsuit, with 3rd mention of this NON-STORY in as many days. Going with the old "Reverse Streisand Ploy", eh? EVEN IF all you wrote is true, SO WHAT? People often make remarks that are just blather.

    Video or didn't happen.

    [Hmm. Failed post attempt, fine as thought of some to add.]

    And YOU have NO actual knowing whether happened or not, MIke! You're going sheerly on trust of whoever -- you've not yet stated a name, very coy. So not only do readers have to believe your account, but even if your own first hand is true, YOU rely on an unsubstantiable account. ... And though I can't imagine why they'd bother, it's even possible that you're being set up.

    The really key point here is that Behnan thus far does NOT back up you up!

     

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  17.  
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    apauld (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:48pm

    So do weasels live in packs?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:49pm

    it's obvious

    Mike Rogers' staffers obviously have access to the vast NSA database of phone conversations and used it to track down Behnan through his call to Mike Masnick

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:50pm

    Re:

    Well, assuming we can all take our conspiracy theory hats off for a moment...

    The staffers, I'm guessing, probably don't talk to reporters all the time about Mike Masnick from Techdirt. They did not deny talking about Mike Masnick or Techdirt at all. So if someone said to them "hey Mike Masnick from Techdirt says you were threatening him via some reporter" and they had talked to only one reporter about Techdirt recently (maybe ever), which reporter are they going to think it is?

    I also love how this post elevates the threat...now it's not coming from some low-level staffer, it's coming from the congressperson himself. This is a common Techdirt line of sensationalism, though...any offhand comment made by the lowest level employee of any organization is taken as the official position of the organization as a whole. As long, of course, as the organization is on the outs with the groupthink and the comment isn't flattering.


    Bang! Nailed it. More self-agrandizing. Doubtful the congressman knows who he is or even gives a shit.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:56pm

    Re: Uh Oh!!

    It's probably a revolving door anyway

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Re:

    Honestly I think your right about the Congressman not giving a shit, but clearly someone underneath him does. The fact Knight bothered to respond to the claim (And either knew who the reporter was or just happened to recall the single reporter they talked to techdirt about), rather than just dismissing it as a baseless claim seems odd. Most likely this is just someone working for Rogers who stumbled across Techdirt and is either acting beyond their authority or voicing them opinion in a way that implies an authority they don't have

     

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  22.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 8:51pm

    Re:

    To play devil's advocate, Behnan might be the only reporter Rogers' staff has talked to recently about Masnick. Even if he wasn't the only one they talked to, he still might be the only one to whom they called Masnick an 'extreme liberal'.

    Perhaps this is true. However, I will say that *if* Behnan is the one who made up the defamation claim when he told me, he's in the wrong business, and he should be acting in Hollywood. We had a long conversation about other things, and he only brought that up at the end, first *checking his notes* to see what Rogers' office had said in response. He didn't just toss it out there -- he checked his notes to make sure what he was telling me was what they had told him.

    In terms of credibility, I see little benefit for Behnan to have made up the claim that Rogers' office told him that it was defamatory -- and I could see plenty of reasons why the office would claim my comments were (even though they were not).

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 8:54pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:38pm

    Perhaps a little deeper thought could be used here. Supposing that is the only reporter the staffer(s) talk to, how does that necessitate said individual to be mikes source? What if mike hear said information from another reporter who had made this up or got their information from another congressional staffer and misattributed. Why would they even name the reporter they talk to as the one they did not give said information rather than leaving it as "our office did not say that"?

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:26pm

    Re:

    It's pretty simple. Their response makes it clear that they did talk with that reporter about Techdirt, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to identify him.

    So that leaves us with two possible scenarios. Christopher Behnan is lying, or Kelsey Knight is lying. For Mr. Behnan, he would have to have asked Roger's staff about Techdirt, found the response insufficiently inflammatory, and lied about their response to Mike Masnick to... what? Try and fan a feud for him to report on when there's a million other things to report on? What benefit would he gain from lying? Kelsey Knight on the other hand would need a random staffer, perhaps themself, perhaps someone else, to shoot off their mouth and make boasts about possible defamation suits in a conversation they forgot was not confidential. Leaving Kelsey to lie about something that could be construed as a threat to sue, and therefore grounds for a lawsuit against the Representative's office, all because of some low ranking staffer with a poor grasp of the law spouting off a non-official position.

    Now, I'm sure you'd ask that if it was a matter of some low staffer spouting off, why wouldn't they just admit it was a faux pas by a staffer, promise he'll be dealt with, and end it with an apology? Well first of all, that would require they apologize, representatives and their offices are big on doing that to people they don't think much of. Second, they may not wish to actually discipline the staffer in question. Third, it may be an option they've discussed, and would like to keep available, and apologizing for it now would hurt their case later.

    The bottom line is that it's difficult to imagine why Behnan would want or need to lie about his conversation, and it's easy to imagine why the representative's office would want or need to lie about the conversation.

     

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  25.  
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    techflaws (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:20pm

    Re:

    You're even failing at this. Thanks for proving Mike's point.

     

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  26.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:32pm

    House Intelligence Committee

    House Intelligence Committee, which is supposed to oversee all of these assholes that have lied to Congress and lied to the public.
    They have been so inept at doing so, even revealing their own lies to Congress while telling other lies, you have to wonder if that is a learned skill from their "leaders" on the Committee.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 4:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think most representatives have staffers that are at least aware of Techdirt since the talkingpoints are very different from mainstream politics and politicians use an unproportionate amount of time preparing for questions they may be asked about subjects they are involved in.

    I think the problem could be the journalist too since communication is a nimble subject where even missing a single word can change the meaning completely. I do not doubt the journalist has heard these things:

    "They felt I was "an extreme liberal" and that I was using "liberal" talking points to attack him."

    That is the standard defence from a conservative. "They all be commies!" etc. Distancing Mike from conservative values is probably a way to try to quell some of the conservatives internal discussion on the subject.

    I think the staffer may have said that some of Mikes statements might be of defamating character. It would be unbelievably stupid to threaten to sue or even mention the word.

    Politician gods and their disciples are religiously holding on to a far outdated reality so I would not put it past a staffer feeling hurt by the statements about his/her god that the feeling of blasphemy might have gotten the better of the person.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Re: it's obvious

    Nope, they just used a quantum nano-micro-radio implanted in Mike's false tooth that he had put in last year...

    /s

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 6:12am

    the man appears to be nothing but a damn fool and a liar and seems to be surrounded by people that appear to be equally of the same cloth. poetic justice or fate?

     

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