Nick Sandmann's Wacky QAnon Supporting Lawyer Threatens Reporters For 'Speculating' On Washington Post's Settlement With Sandmann

from the why-so-mad-lin? dept

On Friday, we wrote about the bad reporting concerning Nick Sandmann's settlement with the Washington Post, that nearly every knowledgeable lawyer figures was likely for "nuisance value" to get rid of the lawsuit. We noted that the NY Post's coverage of it misleadingly suggested that the kid got many millions of dollars, when there's no evidence to support that conclusion, and plenty to suggest he got very little. If you want a thorough debunking of "the kid got paid" narrative, this thread by @RespectableLawyer lays out the details. As we had noted in our post, the court had already rejected nearly all of the claims in the case, and only allowed it to be reinstated to allow for very narrow discovery on very narrow issues which Sandmann almost certainly would not have won on. There was basically no chance Sandmann would win the case. So, a nuisance fee settlement makes it worthwhile to everyone. The paper gets out of the case for less than the cost of going through discovery and the whole summary judgment process, and Sandmann gets to say he got paid, without ever saying how little.

However, on Monday, Sandmann's lawyer, L. Lin Wood (who you may recall from his ability to lose one of the rare defamation cases that I thought actually had a chance to succeed, against Elon Musk) completely lost his shit on Twitter because enough people were calling out the fact that Sandmann most likely got peanuts, which destroyed the narrative Wood has been trying to sell. Wood, who apparently is now a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory based on his willingness to include the #WWG1WGA tag in his Twitter profile (if you're not familiar, it stands for the silly QAnon phrase: "where we go one, we go all"), has apparently decided that merely speculating on the settlement amounts violates agreements people were not a party to.

Either way, Wood started threatening people and CNN. In separate tweets he accused both Brian Stelter (an on-air CNN personality) and Asha Rangappa (a lawyer and law professor who sometimes appears on CNN) for "speculating" on the settlement between Sandmann and the Washington Post. He even said that if Stelter isn't fired, he'll sue CNN.



Wood is arguing that CNN on air talent is violating a confidentiality agreement that was part of the settlement in a different case (CNN settled a similar case with Sandmann, likely on similar terms, back in January, at which point we wrote about similarly misleading reporting regarding the settlement). With Stelter, he's arguing that merely retweeting a lawyer suggesting that the most likely outcome of the Washington Post case was a nuisance fee settlement is a violation of that confidentiality agreement. With Rangappa, it's her own speculation.

First off, neither Stelter nor Rangappa are even remotely connected to the Washington Post settlement, so they're not parties to the case and clearly are not restricted by any confidentiality agreement and are free to speculate (or in Stelter's case, to retweet someone else's speculation) of the Washington Post settlement. The only way there might be a tiny (extremely weak) argument is if they were employed by the Washington Post. But even then they would have no actual insight into the actual settlement terms or amounts, and speculating is not violating a confidentiality settlement when they have no awareness of the terms. But to say that CNN employees are somehow violating the confidentiality agreement in a separate case for speculating on a different case is... just wacky nonsense.

Of course, many lawyers who understand this stuff pointed out that Wood freaking out that it violates confidentiality agreements to say that he settled the Sandmann cases for nuisance value... certainly seems to suggest that Wood is effectively confirming that it's true. Of course, after a bunch of people started to say that, he started insisting that his problem is with "false speculation" violating confidentiality agreements, but that makes no sense. That's like when the White House tries to argue that a leak of classified information is false. If it's false, it's not classified info. Claiming it's a leak confirms it's accurate.

Here, if anyone is violating a confidentiality agreement (which, again, they are not) it would be in revealing information to that is covered by the agreement. Speculating -- and even more bizarrely -- speculating falsely, is unlikely to be much of a violation. At best, Wood might be able to argue that there's some sort of total gag order that came with the settlements saying that CNN/WaPo and staff won't ever discuss anything having to do with Nick Sandmann and his sketchy lawsuits. I'd be surprised if either company agreed to such things, but it's not crazy, and the insurance companies backing CNN might have even been willing to agree to such nonsense terms.

But that's still not going to do very much here. There's no way on-air talent was privy to any of the details, and it's hard to see how a gag order would extend to them.

Also, it kind of makes you wonder why Wood would be so insistent on this here. If he really pressured CNN into agreeing to such a total gag order, why would he do that unless it's to hide a terribly tiny settlement for his client? If he actually won big money for Sandmann, he'd be excited about it, not negotiating for CNN to keep the details quiet. And why would he be so angry about anyone talking about the details of the settlement unless he didn't want people speculating on how little he was actually able to secure?

The whole Twitter freak out did his own client a huge disservice, and filing any followup lawsuits will likely only serve to harm his client even more.

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Filed Under: asha rangappa, brian stelter, confidentiality, defamation, lin wood, nick sandmann, nuisance, settlements
Companies: cnn, washington post


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:27pm

    Goddamn, Mike! You beat Shiva in court but are you trying to provoke insane people to sue you again? 😂

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:39pm

    Stelter, a reporter?

    Surely you jest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:43pm

    Of course, many lawyers who understand this stuff pointed out that Wood freaking out that it violates confidentiality agreements to say that he settled the Sandmann cases for nuisance value... certainly seems to suggest that Wood is effectively confirming that it's true. Of course, after a bunch of people started to say that, he started insisting that his problem is with "false speculation" violating confidentiality agreements, but that makes no sense. That's like when the White House tries to argue that a leak of classified information is false. If it's false, it's not classified info. Claiming it's a leak confirms it's accurate.

    Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Give L. Lin Wood a fishing rod and he’ll apparently catch it in his own lip.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:45pm

    Thanks for the confirmation snowflake

    Well, if the lawyer involved is losing his mind over mere speculation that the settlement might have been for pocket-change, to the point that he's threatening a lawsuit if one of the people speculating isn't fired that sure sounds like a pretty solid confirmation that chump change is exactly what was handed over, assuming any money changed hands.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Khym Chanur (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:49pm

    At best, Wood might be able to argue that there's some sort of total gag order that came with the settlements saying that CNN/WaPo and staff won't ever discuss anything having to do with Nick Sandmann and his sketchy lawsuits.

    If there was such a gag order, wouldn't CNN have told everyone working for them to not say anything, thus making disobeying that order a fireable offense?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:55pm

      Pretty much. Any gag order on CNN’s side would only cover any lawsuits with which CNN was involved. CNN had no involvement in the WaPo case; CNN anchors/guests can legally talk about that case all they want. Wood has no leg to stand on with that argument.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:54pm

    One thing's for certain:

    Nick Sandmann had a fool for a lawyer and he wasn't even pro se.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Khym Chanur (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 12:58pm

    Huh, Wood seems to have deleted all of those tweets. Guess after he came down off his rage he realized he was talking out of his ass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 3:30pm

      Re:

      I'm more inclined to believe that he realized that his public temper tantrum was just confirming the speculation and is trying to pretend it didn't happen, as if he's the kind to lash out like that I don't see him caring too much about just making shit up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 1:00pm

    smh

    Masnick is such a mendacious man who argues in such bad faith.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 1:12pm

      Re: smh

      [Projects facts not in evidence]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Khym Chanur (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 1:15pm

      Re: smh

      What, exactly, about this particular article is argued in bad faith? And how do you know it was argued in bad faith?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 1:34pm

        Oh, come now...

        You're arguing in bad faith too.

        Just look at the title... "Nick Sandmann's Wacky QAnon Supporting Lawyer Threatens Reporters For 'Speculating' On Washington Post's Settlement With Sandmann"

        "Wacky QAnon Supporting Lawyer"

        Poison the well much?

        "Threatens Reporters"

        What reporter? Stelter isn't reporter. He's a commentator.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 1:33pm

      Hi, Mr. Wood!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 1:38pm

    So, not threatening anyone who speculated that the settlements might be huge?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 1:52pm

    I might be speculating falsely here, but Wood sounds like an idiot and an asshole. I'm not subject to any confidentiality agreements as far as I know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 2:41pm

    He already got paid once by CNN for the serious crime of not doing anything wrong. That $1000 at a time isn't going to just roll in by itself, gotta keep those lawsuits coming!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    restless94110 (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 7:55pm

    QAnon

    I fail to see why you included the word wacky and QAnon supporting in your headline and in your article.

    The "wacky" attorney also supports you sending flowers to your mother on Mother Day. Neither of those have a thing to do with a company--of any kind--violating an NDA.

    And by including a disparaging descriptive in your piece and headline you just make yourself look foolish and prejudiced. Impartial journalism forbids the use of adjectives like wacky.

    Try just reporting the facts. Stop being so wacky.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2020 @ 9:17pm

      Re: QAnon

      Mike is an editor who provides his own opinions on the pieces he writes.

      Or in his own words:

      "Really? I don’t think of myself as a traditional journalist/reporter at all. If I do any journalism it’s by accident, not on purpose. I think, these days, that everyone is always a bit of a journalist, so sometimes that comes through. But, on the whole, I’ve never thought of myself as a journalist at all. I don’t think that’s likely to change."

      • Mike Masnick

      And QAnon is fucking wacky and indicates the believer is a nutjob. He was being polite with that description. Anyone who thinks QAnon discredits themselves from being taken seriously, except maybe as a threat to the truth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 9:35pm

      Re: QAnon

      Impartial journalism forbids the use of adjectives like wacky.

      Says who?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 9:56pm

      Impartial journalism forbids the use of adjectives like wacky.

      Good thing he’s not practicing impartial journalism or else he’d have a serious problem on his hands, then.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 10:46pm

      Re: QAnon

      "I fail to see why you included the word wacky and QAnon supporting in your headline and in your article."

      Because they're both accurate and reflect on his inability to deal with reality?

      "The "wacky" attorney also supports you sending flowers to your mother on Mother Day."

      I'm sure Mike can provide evidence of his assertions. Can you provide evidence of yours, or is it just projection to avoid dealing with the broken mental state of a Q guy?

      "Impartial journalism forbids the use of adjectives like wacky."

      What does that have to do with this opinion blog?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Jul 2020 @ 11:53pm

      Ridiculous ideas are by definition deserving of ridicule

      If someone buys into a batshit conspiracy theory and is making public statements of support for it then that's probably worth pointing out, and at that point 'wacky' is probably underselling it if anything

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Jul 2020 @ 1:19am

      Re: QAnon

      I fail to see why you included the word wacky and QAnon supporting in your headline and in your article.

      Because it's relevant in judging the kind of lawyer we're talking about.

      The "wacky" attorney also supports you sending flowers to your mother on Mother Day.

      That's not a wacky thing to support. If it was, then I might point it out. Supporting QAnon is fucking wacky.

      Neither of those have a thing to do with a company--of any kind--violating an NDA.

      No, but it does show something about his level of judgment and his credibility. Sending flowers to your mother is dog bites man. Supporting QAnon is man bites dog. Get it?

      And by including a disparaging descriptive in your piece and headline you just make yourself look foolish

      Heh. No. You look foolish for getting upset about it.

      Impartial journalism forbids the use of adjectives like wacky.

      I don't give a fuck what a nutjob like you thinks. You always post dumb Trumpist conspiracy theories, and I seem to keep debunking your nonsense, and you never return to back up your nonsense. At some point I'm going to just have to call it out and say that you're either a deluded idiot or a troll.

      Try just reporting the facts

      It's my fucking site. And since day 1 we've done analysis and opinion and it's my opinion that a famous lawyer supporting QAnon is wacky. So fuck off if you don't like it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jul 2020 @ 4:32pm

      Re: QAnon

      You appear to be confused as to what the words impartial, reporter, journalism, and wacky mean.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I, Claudius, 28 Jul 2020 @ 8:14pm

    Anybody who thinks he got anything more than a bag of peanuts obviously has never dealt with the media to any degree. I'm not defending the media by any stretch, it really is difficult for them to get much of anything correct, but anybody who inserts themselves into the public eye on purpose or by accident needs to know that it may very well not turn out so good. Any other idea is a massive naivete on the part of that person. I've done hundreds of media interviews over the years (up to and including ALL of the national outlets), and you go into it accepting they may -or may not- get things right. This kid is a complete idiot ... well maybe that's a typical description for a 16-year-old. For example, whenever I'm in DC doing work, I keep myself far-and-away from any protest activity, and my advice to everybody else is to do the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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