Lawyer Whose Main Claim To Fame Is Suing A News Org To Get It Shut Down, Now Complains About 'Cancel Culture'
from the oh-this-is-rich dept
As a bit of a reminder/disclaimer, Charles Harder was the main lawyer in the lawsuit against us, in which the plaintiff said directly that his intent was that we needed to be shut down. Of course, Harder’s bigger claim to fame was his success in shutting down Gawker, thanks to a concerted effort by a billionaire who didn’t like Gawker’s reporting.
Harder has, in fact, relished his reputation for threatening and suing news organizations that publish information his clients dislike. Hell, he just published a whole book in which the title itself champions the fact that he killed off Gawker. Over the years, we’ve seen Harder threaten and/or sue plenty of media organizations over completely ridiculous things. He sued the New York Times over an opinion piece on behalf of Donald Trump’s campaign (and lost), he helped a cryptocurrency company sue Forbes for an article about how the company was structured, he tried (and failed) to get multiple books about Donald Trump blocked from publication — including suing over the book by niece Mary Trump and threatening a suit over Steve Bannon’s book. He also threatened the New York Times over its big Harvey Weinstein expose.
In fact, nearly every aspect of Harder’s claim to fame is built around his ability to threaten or sue media organizations into silence.
And the impact of his lawsuits has been very real. There have been stories about the Gawker Effect creating a real chill on investigative reporting, especially into malfeasance. And I’ve certainly spoken about the chilling effects of the lawsuit that was filed against me.
Given all of that, it’s incredibly rich for Harder to now publish an op-ed decrying “cancel culture.” And, yet, that’s exactly what he’s done. In a piece that originally appeared on InsideSources and is now popping up in actual newspaper op-eds, like the Jacksoville Journal-Courier, Harder argues that we need to stop trying to cancel people for speech. The whole thing would make me laugh if it didn’t make me actually feel ill.
When it comes to the cancel culture debate, an important litmus test to apply when thinking about whether something?or someone?should be canceled is this: Does the punishment fit the crime? Vigorous debate, and even unpopular ideas, must be protected. Not only protected but encouraged. When people become scared to speak freely or are punished for expressing an unpopular view, American society inches closer to becoming homogenous, and where freedoms and diverse thoughts are suppressed.
Are you for real? Your career is highlighted by trying to shut entire media organizations down for articles that someone didn’t like. Does the punishment fit the crime? Take a look in the mirror, Charles. Vigorous debate must be protected? Is the exception when a client pays you a lot of money to silence one side of that debate? Again, the only actual evidence we’ve seen of people being “too scared to speak freely” or “punished for expressing” certain views came as the result of lawsuits like yours that have chilled investigative reporting — especially on the rich and powerful abusing their positions.
The Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment to ensure for all Americans the right to free speech and free expression, without persecution. Everyone should feel free to exercise those rights without fear of backlash.
Really? Where do I send the bill for the hell you put me through?
But beyond hate speech and other terribly unacceptable speech, while I don?t condone disrespecting the flag or the national anthem, I strongly support people being allowed to speak their mind without fear of being canceled for it.
Then stop suing people and threatening others for their speech. Hell, your own history had me think twice before writing this very article, because I have no clue if you’re going to sue me. You’d have no basis to do so, but that hasn’t seemed to have stopped you in the past. That is the very chilling effect and “backlash” that you, yourself, created.
Harder’s article goes on to discuss examples of what he believes is “cancel culture” — conveniently leaving out much of the context and nuance behind them. This includes the now-infamous Harper’s Letter, which we noted was not so much an essay on cancel culture, but about professional assholes seeking to hide behind a few legitimate cases of overreaction, and trying to avoid the social consequences of their speech. Incredibly, Harder’s own description of the Harper’s letter situation ends like this:
Naturally, the signatories caught flack for signing it.
Notice he didn’t say they were “cancelled.” They “caught flak.” And, uh, just a few paragraphs earlier, you insisted that you supported and even encouraged ‘vigorous debate.’ And the Harper’s Letter… created vigorous debate. Rather than embrace it, you’re suggesting it’s also an example of cancel culture. It seems like Harder is saying that he doesn’t support cancel culture of some people, but is fine in other cases.
The end of Harder’s piece is really quite something.
I believe that less cancellation, and more thoughtful consideration of context?plus appreciation for viewpoints we disagree with, particularly when communicated in a respectful, law-abiding way?would benefit all of us.
This is rich coming from you, who continue to sue media organizations and have just released a book proudly touting your own ability to shut down a media organization.
So applying the test to Colin Kaepernick: Did the punishment fit the crime? My answer: Where?s the crime?
What “crime” did I commit when you represented a client against me, Charles? What did I do that was worth eating up two and a half years of my life?