Sean Hannity Hires Charles Harder To Threaten The NY Times And Its Reporters, Because Of Course He Does

from the ah,-that-old-first-amendment,-what-is-it-good-for dept

Last month, Kara Swisher wrote an opinion piece for the NY Times ripping Sean Hannity and Fox News to shreds for convincing her mother that COVID-19 wasn’t going to be too bad back in February and leading into March. It’s notable how she started her piece:

You can relax, Sean Hannity, I?m not going to sue you.

Some people are suggesting that there might be grounds for legal action against the cable network that you pretty much rule ? Fox News ? because you and your colleagues dished out dangerous misinformation about the virus in the early days of the crisis in the United States. Some might allege that they have lost loved ones because of what was broadcast by your news organization.

But lawsuits are a bad idea. Here?s why: I believe in Fox News?s First Amendment right as a press organization, even if some of its on-air talent did not mind being egregiously bad at their jobs when it came to giving out accurate health data.

Apparently, Hannity does not have the same respect for the 1st Amendment, because after throwing a complete shit-fit over Swisher’s piece, he’s now hired lawyer Charles Harder (who, full disclaimer, represented the guy who sued us a few years back, and is now also representing the Trump campaign in an ongoing series of SLAPP suits designed to chill the press) to send a truly ridiculous SLAPP threat letter to the NY Times over Swisher’s piece and a couple of other NY Times pieces that have criticized Hannity or noted accurately the times he played down the threat of the virus.

I should note, in passing, that Harder might want to take into consideration what happened to the last lawyer who simultaneously represented Donald Trump and Sean Hannity.

Anyway, the letter focuses on the claims that Hannity also talked about how serious COVID-19 might be. He did do this, but at the same time, frequently was seen doing his usual boosterism of the President’s “everything’s fine here” messaging, by blaming the “mainstream media” and “the left” for “politicizing” COVID-19 by criticizing the President.

The point that the NY Times was making in its pieces was that in his repeated efforts to play up the President’s (misleading) messages of everything being fine, many people (including Swisher’s mother) didn’t believe the disease was as serious as it really was. That can absolutely be true even if at other times Hannity did say the disease could be serious. You can argue that both sides are cherry-picking here, but that’s hardly defamatory. Notably, the best that Harder and Hannity can do here is say that the NY Times implied false things, not that they actually said false things — which again shows how weak any defamation claim would be:

As detailed herein, the Stories, at the very least, impart the false and defamatory inference that (1) Mr. Hannity?s on-air statements (on March 9, 2020) caused Mr. Joyce to believe it was a safe to take a cruise on March 1, 2020, that apparently led to his death; and (2) Mr. Hannity (allegedly) disseminated ?misinformation? about the pandemic. Both of these implied statements are completely false. Moreover, the language in the April 18, 2020 Story reflects that you intended these false inferences, by how you deliberately manipulated the wording to create the false narrative. The Stories also encourage readers to draw the false conclusion that Mr. Hannity has no concern for the lives of his viewers.

I mean, if we’re going to be suing based on what other people believe you implied, then, uh, Hannity might be opening himself up to lawsuits as well. Except that in most cases, your interpretation of what someone “implied” is the opposite of defamatory, because it’s based on interpretation, not actual statements of fact.

The letter also goes on a long rant claiming that the NY Times ignored the fact that Democratic politicians played down the threat as well, and that the “mainstream media” also played it down as well. This has become a key talking point from Fox News and Trump folks, but as Cathy Young pointed out in an excellent Bulwark piece, many of those complaints are taken way out of context (and Young is not someone who is often found defending mainstream media organizations).

Either way, the letter makes it clear that, unlike Kara Swisher’s respect for the US Constitution and the 1st Amendment, Sean Hannity, with Harder’s help, is ready to sue the NY Times.

Please confirm in writing within twenty-four (24) hours of transmission of this letter that you will retract, correct and apologize for each of the foregoing statements. Failure to do so will leave Mr. Hannity with no alternative but to consider instituting immediate legal proceedings against you. Should that occur, Mr. Hannity would pursue all available causes of action and seek all available legal remedies to the maximum extent permitted by law, including without limitation, actual damages, special damages, punitive damages, and temporary and permanent injunctive relief.

The NY Times, of course, is not usually one to back down from defamation threats, and wasted little time in responding:

?We?ve reported fairly and accurately on Mr. Hannity and there is no basis for a retraction or an apology.?

Once again, right about now, it sure would be nice if New York had a real anti-SLAPP law instead of the heavily limited anti-SLAPP law it currently has. Oh, and also we still need a federal anti-SLAPP law to stop these abusive, censorial threats and lawsuits. But, considering how vocal Sean Hannity is about how much he “loves” free speech, suing the NY Times because it “implied” he played down the threat of COVID-19 suggests otherwise.

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Comments on “Sean Hannity Hires Charles Harder To Threaten The NY Times And Its Reporters, Because Of Course He Does”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Money talks, but does it speak truth?

" Failure to do so will leave Mr. Hannity with no alternative but to consider instituting immediate legal proceedings against you. "

Of course he has alternatives. He could stop representing censorious asshats. He could interpret defamation laws the way they were supposed to be interpreted. He could instruct clients who wish to file baseless lawsuits in the folly of their wishes. But then that might destroy his business.

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crade (profile) says:

"NY Times ignored the fact that Democratic politicians played down the threat as well and that the "mainstream media" also played it down as well"..
It’s ok that I was claiming that that the mainstream media and dems were blowing this whole thing out of proportion just to make trump look bad because, well, they were… um.. totally playing it down too?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'You say they're wimps but they beat you, so what are you then?'

There is definitely some serious humor to be found in someone claiming both that the other side are a bunch of delicate snowflakes while at the same time crying foul and playing the victim anytime those ‘snowflakes’ make an ‘objectionable’ comment.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Why if you were a cynic you might claim that all the regular mouthpieces of the US right wing are to 100% engaging in troll rhetoric and looking angry and upset to cover the fact that they keep getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar and by now can’t envision any other reaction than screaming "Thief! THIEF!!" at the top of their lungs.

Of course if that was the case then they’re looking every bit as pathetic as that chinese troll who comes around here these days telling us the US is way worse than China when it comes to human rights.

Good thing I’m not a cynic. That’d be depressing.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Wow, two really good points. China. You work for China? What’s your point? The Democrats are worse than the Chinese communists? I’d agree with that.

And, your second point, “troll rhetoric”… did you see the Wikipedia definition? Will you write it? Explain to us “angry and upset” Hannity lovers.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

"The Democrats are worse than the Chinese communists? "

Do continue.

And due to there being a wide spectrum of individual personality characteristics for each and every member of each group to which you have referred, please be specific about which characteristics you find to be objectionable and why. Since it may be difficult to compare the two groups, how would you go about it?

When are you moving to China?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

" Explain to us “angry and upset” Hannity lovers."

I’ll just refer to your own example where you are unable to muster any argument at all without stacking it on top of ad hominem and falsehood.

That is indeed troll rhetoric, same as Hannity is employing.

It may come as a surprise to you but in this century an argument can not be won by simply looking angry and screaming invective. You need facts to prop up your assertions.
But rather than present fact you just pull yet another Hannity by trying to shout the opposition down.

That doesn’t work online, bro. All it does is prove the old adage about how it’s better to keep silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 'Steal Our Jobs' = Strawman

I don’t believe I’ve ever actually heard this used in an anti-immigration argument. It’s a strawman.

What anti-immigration advocates do say is that illegal immigrants drive down wages, use an inordinate amount of taxpayer- and privately-funded services (emergency rooms, law enforcement resources, etc), increase the sense that laws can be ignored at will, and serve as a textbook example of ‘the tragedy of the commons’.

Note that the belief that laws can be ignored at will is the overwhelmingly prime cause of police use of force. (Translation for this website: ‘racist cops shooting totally innocent people of color for fun, and the racist cops never get even a slap on the wrist’.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 'Steal Our Jobs' = Strawman

"What anti-immigration advocates do say is that illegal immigrants .."

Your list includes several incorrect statements but rather than correct them, I thought I would add an item to your list. Immigrants pay a shit load of taxes and most do not file a return so uncle sam keeps it all.

"belief that laws can be ignored at will"
Are you talking about donald specifically or just rich entitled assholes in general?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Stone: Wrong As Usual

Using the words in your fact-free sentence, one can actually form a statement of fact…

According to right-wingers*, leftist ideology is to view personally inconsiderate language as ‘hate speech’*, and leftists counter this metaphorical violence with actual violence.

  • Leftist definition of ‘right-wingers’: liberals, traditional Democrats, libertarians, moderates, centrists, independents, conservatives, and ‘Nazis’ (whatever that means post-1945). So, anyone to the right of the far left.

  • Leftist definition of ‘hate speech’: anything less than enthusiastic praise for any group other than heterosexual white people. I.e. ‘brown people’, ‘Black bodies’, ‘transgendered’ (autogynephiles), ‘LGBGTQPP+’, ‘POC’, ‘undocumented workers’, ‘victims of Islamophobia’, etc. So, anyone not like Mommy and Daddy.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'I support all speech that I agree with.'

But, considering how vocal Sean Hannity is about how much he "loves" free speech, suing the NY Times because it "implied" he played down the threat of COVID-19 suggests otherwise.

Ah good old ‘free speech’ hypocrites, claims to support free speech, immediately goes legal when someone gives an opinion that they don’t like.

I’d say this is pretty clear just another PR stunt in lawsuit form, playing up the ‘poor victimized conservative’ con to gullible fools, because as noted in the article if ‘gave the impression’ counts as defamation then ooh, that’s probably not going to go over too well for certain people/groups.

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Koby (profile) says:

Temporally-Challenged

The NY Times article used Sean Hannity quotes from March 9 as evidence that Joe Joyce thought that it was safe to take a cruise. Except, it turns out that Joe Joyce left for the cruise on March 1st! Whoops! You can’t use the "imply" defense to defy time. I think Sean Hannity can prove in court that his language wasn’t responsible for this guy’s death.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Temporally-Challenged

  1. Not how it works.
  2. Using Hannity’s March quotes as an example of his rhetoric is not saying that THAT quote caused Mr. Joyce to get on the boat. It was an example of his rhetoric.
  3. You don’t think that there are plenty of February quotes from Hannity that can be shown that Mr. Joyce heard instead.
  4. Again, not how it all works.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Temporally-Challenged

Using Hannity’s March quotes as an example of his rhetoric is not saying that THAT quote caused Mr. Joyce to get on the boat. It was an example of his rhetoric.

You don’t think that there are plenty of February quotes from Hannity that can be shown that Mr. Joyce heard instead.

If there are OTHER quotes, or perhaps plenty of February quotes, then those other quotes are the ones that should have been used, and not the March 9 quote. This perhaps would have then made for a weak opinion article, however. Or the writer may have needed to leave Sean Hannity out of the accusations altogether and blame some politicians. But the inclusion of the March 9 quote seems defamatory from the premise of the article. Rhetoric after March 1 could not have been a cause for Mr. Joyce to go on the trip.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Temporally-Challenged

But the inclusion of the March 9 quote seems defamatory from the premise of the article.

That’s a fascinating theory of defamation. And by fascinating, I mean, not supported by basically any of the caselaw on defamation. But, okay.

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Temporally-Challenged

You should read this page https://www.minclaw.com/us-defamation-laws/ . Then tell us what statement of fact that the NYT or their reporter used that they knew or should have known was actually false. Opinions don’t count.

Accusations can be opinion. Stating that ‘Trump is a buffoon who is screwing up the coronavirus response in the US’ is an accusation, but it is also my opinion, and therefore not subject to defamation laws.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Temporally-Challenged

Then tell us what statement of fact that the NYT or their reporter used that they knew or should have known was actually false.

"“He watched Fox, and believed it was under control,’’ Kristen told me. Early in March Sean Hannity went on air proclaiming that he didn’t like the way that the American people were getting scared “unnecessarily.’’ He saw it all, he said, “as like, let’s bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.” Eventually, Fox changed course and took the virus more seriously, but the Joyces were long gone by then."

These seem to be the lines from the article at the heart of this controversy. It could not have happened this way. Joe Joyce could not have seen the March 9 Sean Hannity broadcast, concluded that the coronavirus was a hoax, and then left for his trip on March 1.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Does this report count?

Probably not. The CNN article was last updated February 27 and the NY Times article says that Hannity made the statements in early March. If the NY Times would like to use different quotes from different dates then they should edit the article and apologize for the temporal impossibility.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

Again, as you keep ignoring: this isn’t anywhere near defamation.

I don’t believe I’ve been ignoring this, but I’ll make it as clear as possible: using statements from March 9 as evidence that someone else was encouraged to take a deadly trip on March 1 is provably defamatory. It is clearly false, the NY Times article was published publicly, the mixup of attributing action prior to the cause is at least negligent if you don’t check the dates of events, and the accusation that Sean Hannity’s advice was harmful was itself designed to inflict harm onto Sean Hannity’s reputation and viewership.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

What proof says Hannity made no similar kinds of statements prior to, or on, March 1st?

As I mentioned a few posts up, if the NY Times has quotes from prior to March 1 then they should use those quotes instead. However, I suspect that any such quotes would not be very effective and would have led to a dud of a news article, at least as far as Sean Hannity is concerned. Either quote him correctly, or leave him out of the story.

Also, since I saw this story break back on April 19, I am reasonably certain that if Sean Hannity’s political opponents would have dug up the video tape of those prior statements by now. It would be a great "gotcha" moment. Maybe they still can, if it exists? For now, my assumption is that because it would fly back in Hannity’s face if such evidence ever existed, yet has not been revealed, indicates to me that Hannity probably has a valid complaint.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

The original article was an opinion piece.

Uhoh, we have a serious factual discrepancy here. In the original article posted by Mike, the PDF linked to under the words "a truly ridiculous SLAPP threat letter" points to https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6878941/C-Harder-NYT-Re-Sean-Hannity-Edited.pdf

And that article’s original complaint is https://www.nytimes.com/ 2020/04/18/nyregion/coronavirus-jjbubbles-joe-joyce.html

Which is a dead link to me. However, I can get a working link at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/nyregion/coronavirus-jjbubbles-joe-joyce.html

Which is very much NOT an opinion piece. PDF does complain later on about the opinion piece as well. Is this not the NY Times article that we are talking about? Is it your position that the Joe Joyce article is an opinion piece?

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9

Okay, so, I was referring to the Kara Swisher article which was linked to early in this article. My bad on that one.

But here’s the funny thing: Even if I grant that the “temporal impossibility” was a flat-out lie instead of an honest mistake or a rhetorical flourish, that still doesn’t make what was said about Hannity anything close to defamatory.

But let’s say, only for the sake of argument, that the statement was an intentional lie. Such an admission still leaves open a question you haven’t answered: How does that one false statement of fact, on its own, defame Sean Hannity to the point where said statement constitutes actual malice or reckless disregard?

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

How does that one false statement of fact, on its own, defame Sean Hannity to the point where said statement constitutes actual malice or reckless disregard?

For the actual malice, I think that’s where the legal threat letter, and the Kara Swisher article come into play. The Kara Swisher opinion piece, and other NY Times articles critical of Hannity are designed to establish a pattern whereby the NY Times is constantly attacking Hannity. Then, the NY Times dug up a quote, which was specifically tracked down to the March 9 broadcast. If the NY Times knew that Hannity’s statement was from March 9, and Joe Joyce left for the trip on March 1, and they knew this, but they hate Hannity, and they don’t correct the article, then that could constitute actual malice. They knew that the information was false, and have continued to intentionally maintain the article online without an edit.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11

For me to believe that what claim to be actual malice is actual malice, I would have to assume a number of things are all true simultaneously:

  1. The Times has “attacked” (read: criticized) Sean Hannity in the past.
  2. The Times has singled out Sean Hannity in some way for criticism/“attacks”, or at least made more of a habit of doing that to him than to any other Fox News personality.
  3. The Times printed the article containing the “temporal impossibility” with an intentionally reckless disregard for the truth.
  4. The reputation of Sean Hannity suffered to some irreparable degree because of that article.

I can get on board with #1, but #2 is where I jump the train before it goes off the rails in #3 and #4. You can’t convince me that the article in question was some sort of “special ‘attack’ ” on Hannity by the Times. You sure as hell can’t convince me that the Times acted with reckless disregard/defamatory intent by printing the article. And you have better odds of finding a way to punch me over TCP/IP than you do of convincing anyone that Hannity suffered a legitimate hit to his reputation because of that article.

This lawsuit is a SLAPP designed to both grift money/attention from gullible Fox News viewers and chill any further critcial-of-Hannity speech from the Times. No court worth a good god’s damn should ever consider this suit to be anything but a SLAPP — and frankly, neither should you. But if you wanna keep on defending Hannity trying to use the courts as a way of silencing his critics…well, at least dig a nice grave on your hill before you die on it.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

Ok, that’s a weak reply, but I have a theory about that. Leftists are missing the adult genome. That is, they cannot apprehend adult discussions, reverting instead to childish idioms like “I know you are but what am I?” Repeated adinfinitum. They simply cannot do the calculus required for adult arguments.

Prove me right.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Temporally-Challenged

"A deliberate false and public accusation. i.e.- Here is an example of Sean Hannity saying something on his t.v. show that contributed to the death of some guy who went on a boat cruise."

According to US courts neither opinion nor fact can count as defamatory.

Which is why Swisher is not liable for defamation. Ironically Hannity’s only argument in a lawsuit intended to be won is if he manages to make the case that it is plausible that he’d deliberately spread misinformation but did, in fact, not and that Swisher’s accusations were both *believable, yet false**.

Of course the real reason Hannity threatens to sue is not to win the case because he can’t do so without having judge and jury establish he’s such an inveterate liar that Swisher’s implication is believable.

So here we have Hannity, demonstrably using a SLAPP right after having a nuclear meltdown on twitter, making himself look like even more of an ass…and you decide to come in swinging, accomplishing only to convince people that although Hannity may be pretending to be deranged his adherents apparently are, for real.

Here’s a clue. When one of your idols pull off as crappy an appearance as Hannity does the only viable option which won’t make you look worse is to turn the other way and pretend you don’t know the guy.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Temporally-Challenged

Yet more irony? Hannity can indeed win the lawsuit by establishing, as official court-verified truth, that he is indeed an inveterate and deliberate liar.

After that he still has to show that the specific lie Swisher targeted him for wasn’t what he actually stated which might be tough as he’s on record for a lot of this. But at least he has a chance of getting the jury on board with that part of it.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Temporally-Challenged

OMG did you have to reach deep into your empty mind to construct that argument? Do tell us more, idiot boy. Convince anyone, other than your obviously deluded leftist comrades, of something negative about My Personal Hero, former boxboy and now international super-star, Shaun Hannity. Go for it.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6

Convince anyone, other than your obviously deluded leftist comrades, of something negative about My Personal Hero, former boxboy and now international super-star, Shaun Hannity.

Should I start with his support for the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, his complicity in smearing Marie Yovanovich, his implicit support for the Trumpian proposition of imprisoning Hillary Clinton without a conviction, his “unofficial White House policymaker”–close ties to Donald Trump, his obsession with Hillary Clinton’s underwear, or his explicit support for Ted Cruz’s negative stance on Obergefell v Hodges?

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8

say something negative

I did. It’s not my fault that you consider…

  • peddling in a conspiracy theory that even Seth Rich’s family has discredited
  • smearing a U.S. Ambassador because she didn’t kiss Trump’s ass (metaphorically or literally)
  • jailing a political opponent of Trump (presumably) without due process
  • a “journalist” working both on-camera and behind the scenes to influence official White House policy
  • an obsession with the underwear of that aformentioned political opponent of Trump
  • agreeing with someone who said the day that Obergefell v Hodges was decided (i.e., the day that same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide) was “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history”

…to be positives instead of negatives. But I suppose it is nice for you to finally confirm that you are, at least, a homophobe.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

To be fair, Tero Pulkinnen is the only one manages to pull off the vertical lettering thing, and he’s not even discussing the finer points of right-wing extremism.

…Goes to show you that copyright is so fucked up its adherents are even more trollish than goddamn bleach-drinking Republicans.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Ah, the ways of the narcissist: ‘If anyone says something I don’t agree with, they are wrong.’

Only you choose random irrelevant beliefs/traits (regardless of whether those traits actually fit) for the sake of dismissing the person you don’t agree with via Ad hominem. Alternatively, you dismiss the ideas as childish regardless of their actual merit.

So All together it becomes:
‘If anyone says something I don’t agree with, they are a leftist/(insert other trait here) and thus are wrong. Furthermore, their ideas are childish and will continue to be childish no matter how thorough they explain their ideas. I will tell that person to come up with an adult argument until they agree with me.’

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Anonymous Coward says:

You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

The 1st Amendment applies to the government, not private entities like Sean Hannity. If he wants to sue the NYT, he’s allowed to, the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to this.

That’s what you guys say when Twitter bans people "The 1st Amendment doesn’t apply" and "Private entities can do what they want".

But when Hannity sues the NYT? "He doesn’t respect the 1st Amendment."

…Which is it? If Hannity suing the NYT is an affront to the 1st Amendment, then Twitter banning people for what they say is also an affront to the 1st Amendment.

"You have freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences!" – What some of you have said to defend Twitter and Facebook’s bans.

Okay… Sure… I remember when someone said that about Gawker being sued into oblivion. Most of you who are defending Twitter and Facebook got all pissy about that statement. I know, I know "it’s different because the courts were involved!"

…Yeah, like they’re SUPPOSED to be! One of the jobs of the courts is to SETTLE DISPUTES between two parties. (And Gawker didn’t help themselves by thumbing their noses at another court’s decision.)

So, if you’re going to rag on Sean Hannity for suing the NYT (and I’m not defending him), then start ragging on Twitter and Facebook for their banning of lots of high profile political people.

Or not, I mean, it only shows your hypocrisy on this issue.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

If Hannity suing the NYT is an affront to the 1st Amendment, then Twitter banning people for what they say is also an affront to the 1st Amendment.

Those two things aren’t even remotely the same, and I’ll give you a four-word answer as to why: a court of law.

Hannity filed a lawsuit against the Times over lawful speech. He wants to use the courts — i.e., the judiciary branch of the government — as a means of silencing speech from a writer for the Times and chill further speech about him from other Times writers. In that way, Hannity disrespected the First Amendment.

Twitter banned Alex Jones for all the dumb bullshit he said. The company didn’t call for government intervention. It also didn’t attempt to stop Jones, in any way, from saying whatever the hell he wants on any other platform (including the one he owns). In that way, Twitter respected — and even made use of — the First Amendment (specifically, the protection afforded to the right of association).

I don’t know what else to tell you if you still can’t see the difference. Your ignorance, willful or otherwise, is not my problem to solve.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

So by your own logic twitter is supposed to fight people in court every time it wants to ban someone? Even though twitter has many users, some of whom are not in the US?

That’s a horrible idea if I’ve ever heard one… The mere implications just get worse the more you think about them.

Especially given the part of twitter’s ToS requiring you to waiver any objections toward using the legal venues in San Francisco… Granted that’s harder to enforce anyway but they would still try.

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Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

The 1st Amendment applies to the government, not private entities like Sean Hannity. If he wants to sue the NYT, he’s allowed to, the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to this.

Um. No. Short answer: using the courts (the state) to sue someone over their speech is using the power of the government to censor and that IS in violation of the 1st Amendment.

Longer answer: https://www.popehat.com/2016/06/11/hello-youve-been-referred-here-because-youre-wrong-about-the-first-amendment/

That’s what you guys say when Twitter bans people "The 1st Amendment doesn’t apply" and "Private entities can do what they want".

Because they’re a private platform and not using the force of government.

But when Hannity sues the NYT? "He doesn’t respect the 1st Amendment."

Right, because he’s using the force of government.

Need I go on?

…Which is it? If Hannity suing the NYT is an affront to the 1st Amendment, then Twitter banning people for what they say is also an affront to the 1st Amendment.

I guess I do need to go on. If Twitter were suing someone over their speech, that would also be an affront to the 1st Amendment. They are not.

"You have freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences!" – What some of you have said to defend Twitter and Facebook’s bans.

Yes. But also Twitter and Facebook are private properties. If Sean Hannity wants to block Kara Swisher from posting on his website, he’s free to do so. That’s not a violation of the 1st Amendment. If Twitter sued Hannity for being an idiot, that IS a violation of the 1st Amendment.

Note the difference? One involves the power of the state. One doesn’t.

Okay… Sure… I remember when someone said that about Gawker being sued into oblivion. Most of you who are defending Twitter and Facebook got all pissy about that statement. I know, I know "it’s different because the courts were involved!"

The courts are the state. The state is limited by the 1st Amendment.

…Yeah, like they’re SUPPOSED to be! One of the jobs of the courts is to SETTLE DISPUTES between two parties. (And Gawker didn’t help themselves by thumbing their noses at another court’s decision.)

Yes, using the power of the state, which includes limitations, such as… the 1st Amendment.

So, if you’re going to rag on Sean Hannity for suing the NYT (and I’m not defending him), then start ragging on Twitter and Facebook for their banning of lots of high profile political people.

Again, one is using the power of the state, and one is not.

Or not, I mean, it only shows your hypocrisy on this issue.

No, it means you don’t know the first thing about what you’re saying.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

Isn’t the JOB of the courts to SETTLE disputes between two parties though?

BTW, you’re using the 1st amendment wrong.

1st amendment says you have free speech and other entities can’t take it away. Meaning that freedom of speech is a NATURAL RIGHT that we have at birth and NOT one that is GIVEN to us.

So when Twitter bans someone, sure they aren’t violating the 1st amendment (neither is Hannity in this case), but they ARE violating people’s freedom of speech. FoS is not a law, it’s a concept.

And Popehat? Really? I’ve seen better arguments around free speech from 4chan.

But, fine, let’s use your argument about why the courts shouldn’t get involved.

…alright, so tell me then, how are 2 parties that are in dispute supposed to settle things then? If not through the courts, cuz that would violate the 1st amendment, then how?

I suppose Hannity could have just organized a "pull sponsors from the NYT, get them blocked online, make DNS and payment processors not allow their site online or some combination thereof" movement.

I mean, keeping people from speaking isn’t censorship after all. Right? 😉

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Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

1st amendment says you have free speech and other entities can’t take it away.

That’s not what it says, it says that the government can’t take it away which isn’t the same when you use other entities resources and property to express something they don’t like.

If you think that’s wrong, how about letting me into your home with a megaphone which I will use to express my opinion how I think you are wrong every time you want some sleep.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

when Twitter bans someone, sure they aren’t violating the 1st amendment (neither is Hannity in this case), but they ARE violating people’s freedom of speech

Two things.

  1. Hannity is arguably violating the First Amendment by using the power of the state (i.e., the courts) to silence someone’s legally protected speech and chill any further critical speech about him from anyone else.
  2. Twitter admins don’t violate the First Amendment, or the general ideal of “freedom of speech”, when they ban someone from Twitter. You are entitled to speak your mind. That doesn’t give you the right to use someone else’s platform or to make others (including people on that platform) listen.

keeping people from speaking isn’t censorship after all. Right?

Another two things.

  1. That rhetorical gimmick is bullshit and you’d do well to stop using it.
  2. Moderation is a platform operator saying “we don’t do that here”. Discretion is you saying “I won’t do that there”. Censorship is someone saying “you can’t do that anywhere” before or after threats of either violence or government intervention. Twitter banning someone is moderation; Hannity filing a SLAPP to shut up his critics is an attempt at censorship.

alright, so tell me then, how are 2 parties that are in dispute supposed to settle things then?

Simple: They have a rational dialogue like reasonable adults and reach a compromise about which both parties end up saying to themselves, “I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it. But I accept it.” The courts can, and always should be, a tool of last resort — a “nuclear option” for when all other routes of dialogue and compromise have failed.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

So when Twitter bans someone, sure they aren’t violating the 1st amendment (neither is Hannity in this case), but they ARE violating people’s freedom of speech.

No they are not, because the 1st amendment only guarantees that you can publish your speech at your expense without government interference. Going beyond that by forcing other to publish your speech is infringing on their rights by compelling speech.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

"…the least you could do for yourself is make yourself less recognizable."

It’s Baghdad Bob we’re talking about. He’s either too dumb to realize his "style" might as well be a notarized signature…or more likely, he knows people will recognize his brand of insanity and doesn’t care because his only takeaway from posting here is that he gets to scream online that which would have him carted away to an asylum in real life.

He’s not here to win arguments. He’s not here to present facts. He doesn’t have a political agenda beyond whatever allows him to be as rampant a douchebag as he can be. And he’s around here because in places like Breitbart and Stormfront he’s not finding many excuses to go off on a rant of "<racial slur>, <gender slur>, <ableist slur> leftist!!"

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

Hey, quick question, Mike…

What’s the text on the 1st Amendment?

Don’t worry, I’ll show you.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Hmm… Something about that text… Something… AH!

The 1st Amendment says "CONGRESS".

Guess what, Mike? Courts are NOT part of Congress!

It’s almost like you and so many others have NO idea what the 1st Amendment or Freedom of Speech really are.

EVERY SINGLE TIME you go "WAAAHHH!! Courts are violating the 1st Amendment", you’re COMPLETELY WRONG!

So ANYTIME you say "1st Amendment" in terms of the courts, just remember, Dr. Cox will sing "WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! YOU’RE WRONG! YOU’RE WRONG! YOU’RE WROOOOOO~OOOOOONG!" to you.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Courts are part of the government. The Constitution protects people from government interference in speech, but even those protections have limits. One such limit is defamation. Ergo, a defamation lawsuit with no merit (i.e., a SLAPP) is an attempt to circumvent the First Amendment by using a threat of government interference to silence someone’s speech and chill any other speech that might be similar to the speech targeted by the SLAPP.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Not really, since believing Shiva Ayyadurai is a bully really isn’t too farfetched. He sued people who criticized his (bullshit) claim of having invented modern email and coöpted fellow bully Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas”/“fake Indian” slur of Elizabeth Warren as part of a(n ultimately failed) political campaign. Only bullies pull that kind of shit.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

"So, if you’re going to rag on Sean Hannity for suing the NYT (and I’m not defending him), then start ragging on Twitter and Facebook for their banning of lots of high profile political people. Or not, I mean, it only shows your hypocrisy on this issue."

So what you’re telling us is that unless we consider private property to be identical to a public space and the ability to turn an unpleasant person away from your property identical to government agents telling you you aren’t allowed to speak at all we’re hypocrites?

I think you need a refresher course in what "Free Speech" means. Twitter and Facebook are private platforms. Private.

You’d think a member of the right wing would realize the difference. Or is it just that as usual you guys from the right think socialist collectivism is only bad if it’s the liberals doing it?

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You want your cake and to eat it too, huh?

"Said the anon who went how many levels deep into the comment section to state that they stopped coming here."

For the nth time, at that.

Baghdad Bob is weird that way. He’ll go off on grand rants strewing ethnic, sexual, gender biased or ableist slurs all over while metaphorically dynamiting himself with inherently self-defeating arguments. Then he’ll swear he’s leaving. For reals. In the apparent hope that somewhere there’s people who’ll miss his usual brand of diatribe enough to want him back.

A week later he’ll be right back. Screaming about how this time he’s really, really leaving. For realz.
And he’ll go straight to the cops with a printout of how badly he’s been treated, and we’ll all be dragged off to gitmo along with all the other "leftists". And pirates, of course.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hey Hannity...

Hannity knows he can’t prevail

That depends on what he considers a win I’d say. Legally, on the merits and in court? Probably not. As a performance piece for gullible fools like several other recent lawsuits? Even just filing the case and talking about it will do that, no need to win in court at all, and in fact even a legal loss could be spun as a ‘win’ should that be the goal.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Hey Hannity...

You are righteously right. He already won! He’s here, on Techdirt, paid for by you, and free promotion for him. Did I mention he was a boxboy? Ima boxboy too, and he’s my role model. Fox News! Yeah! It’s in my future too! Boxboy -> Fox News truth teller! Yay!

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dickeyrat says:

Isn’t this precious? The Queen of Smarm Hannity is already building his resume’ to apply for the gig of Blump’s first Secretary of the Media, which will come to reality sometime around 2025 or ’26. Of course, the job interview will be conducted with Smarmie’s head firmly implanted up Blump’s overstuffed ass–but what else would you expect?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Stone: Wrong As Usual

Using the words in your fact-free sentence, one can actually form a statement of fact…

According to right-wingers*, leftist ideology is to view personally inconsiderate language as ‘hate speech’*, and leftists counter this metaphorical violence with actual violence.

* Leftist definition of ‘right-wingers’: liberals, traditional Democrats, libertarians, moderates, centrists, independents, conservatives, and ‘Nazis’ (whatever that means post-1945). So, anyone to the right of the far left.

* Leftist definition of ‘hate speech’: anything less than enthusiastic praise for any group other than heterosexual white people. I.e. ‘brown people’, ‘Black bodies’, ‘transgendered’ (autogynephiles), ‘LGBGTQPP+’, ‘POC’, ‘undocumented workers’, ‘victims of Islamophobia’, etc. So, anyone not like Mommy and Daddy.

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