from the riderinsertingstickinbicyclespokes.png dept
Spotify — the world’s most popular music streaming service — has hitched its wagon to Joe Rogan, a former comedian and reality TV host whose particular take on world events involves him inviting highly controversial guests onto his podcast and then just muttering “that’s wild” when they invoke insane conspiracy theories.
Rogan has drawn heat before, but not quite as much heat as was generated by him inviting Dallas cardiologist Peter McCullough, who “explained” that the reaction to the COVID pandemic was mostly a “mass psychosis event” and that a horse dewormer would be a better option than any of the multiple vaccinations available.
Rogan was duly mocked for hosting this man and his truly stupid ideas. Boycotts were called for, targeting Spotify for making Rogan the face of its podcasting wing by giving him an extremely lucrative contract. Spotify wasn’t necessarily in the wrong when it chose to pay Rogan quite a bit for providing exclusive content. But it had to know Rogan would cause problems, because Rogan has always caused problems.
The first one to fire back at Rogan was Neil Young, a rock artist who knows a little bit about music and streaming. But how much Young’s opinion matters is open to debate, since he was the artist who thought people wanted nothing more than a triangular music player to place uncomfortably close to their crotch while listening to recordings delivered in a proprietary format they couldn’t move to less uncomfortably-shaped music players.
Other artists with less stupid music delivery ideas followed suit. Soon, Spotify was backpedaling, but not far enough it would willingly separate itself from someone it considered to be a profitable, long-term investment. Page after page of internet criticism pointed out the stupidity of the Dallas cardiologist as well as Rogan’s long track record of inviting idiotic conspiracy theorists to his show to spout unchallenged, idiotic conspiracy theories.
D Magazine, a Dallas (TX)-oriented publication edited by Tim Rogers, was one of many offering critiques of the Dallas-based cardiologist with a headful of bad wiring. Its January article pointed out many questionable assertions by the not-so-good doctor, who suggested vaccinations were unnecessary because the spread of COVID was pretty much just a figment of the collective imagination.
One of McCullough’s top talking points is that the population is being “railroaded” into vaccination, rather than working on treating the disease. Rogan asks McCullough how so many physicians could go along with what he characterizes as poor treatment. “We think there are about 500 doctors who know what is going on in the United States,” McCullough says, of about 1 million nationwide. “The nurses are more awake than the doctors.”
“The doctors appear to be, like many of our leaders, are in what is called a mass formation psychosis,” McCullough says. This is when groupthink is so strong that it leads to tragedy, the physician says, citing mass suicides connected to cults. He adds that every prominent religious and international leader is under the same spell. Steps to mass psychosis include isolation, withdrawal of enjoyment, constant anxiety, and a single solution offered by an entity in authority. “Worldwide, everyone must take the vaccination,” he says.
The article, written by Will Maddox, dove deep and provided links and statements from medical professionals who contradicted the Dallas physician’s claims, which went completely unvetted during his appearance on Rogan’s incredibly popular podcast.
Joe Rogan can presumably afford good lawyers, what with his millions in contracts and endorsements. It appears Dr. Peter McCullough can’t. Instead of a good lawyer, he’s apparently retained the services of Parisa Fishback, who appears to be the sole proprietor and litigant of Fishback Law Group, a law firm that specializes in handling bankruptcy filings. Fishback does not appear qualified to handle defamation claims, as Tim Rogers points out for D Magazine.
Dr. Peter McCullough is a kook, and the lawyer who sent us a cease-and-desist letter on his behalf, Parisa Fishback, has a wonderful name but is not good at writing cease-and-desist letters. Again: that’s all in my opinion. Fishback is the president and general counsel of a California-based anti-vaccination-mandate-for-kids outfit called The Unity Project, on whose advisory council McCullough serves (facts). In addition to that work, she is a bankruptcy attorney and real estate broker (fact) who runs a charity that involves luxury cars (fact), which she has described thusly: “At Cars N’ Causes, we are driven to end slavery and are racing to save the lives of victims of human trafficking right here in America” (word play!). Fishback was the wrong choice to send a cease-and-desist letter based on a defamation claim (opinion), because, among other reasons, she spelled it “deafamation.” (Giggle.)
Yes, according to Fishback there’s a new form of libel out there and D Magazine has done it. Apparently it involves liberal use of ASL and the middle finger. “Deafamation” is when you are libel, as those with Twitter Law degrees say.
The letter [PDF] at least attempts to list what bankruptcy lawyer/poor speller Fishback believes to be libelous. But the attempt is inadvertently hilarious, since all it conveys is what the courts call “conclusory statements” that cannot be treated as actionable. Fishback doesn’t even bother to point out how this extended statement from D Magazine is knowingly false. The letter simply assumes that it is before making with the legal threats.
The defamatory statements include, but are not limited to, the following: “Another of McCullough’s talking points, which he also detailed before the Texas Senate, is that healthy people under 50 do not need to get the vaccine. The issue has been fact-checked and discredited by numerous authorities and plenty of empirical evidence, but interestingly enough, Rogan hosted a guest earlier this month who spoke to the risks of the vaccine compared to the virus in young people…. McCullough goes on to doubt the efficacy of the vaccines, saying that those who have already had COVID should not get vaccinated and that there have been very few people who get it twice. The omicron surge has proved that to be wrong again. In Dallas, 95 percent of the deaths at Parkland Hospital have been unvaccinated individuals.”
Fishback’s argument that these statements are false consist solely of her copy-pasting the legal definition of defamation into the C&D.
The other argument Fishback (barely) deploys is an appeal to authority:
Thus as a layperson and not a medical professional, you have defamed Dr. McCullough.
On one hand, I desperately want the doctor to sue, especially if he retains Fishback to handle his “deafamation” claims. Hilarity is bound to ensue.
On the other hand, I don’t want D Magazine to have to spend real money defending itself against obvious bullshit. Fortunately, Texas (where the lawsuit would presumably be filed) has an anti-SLAPP law in place that would make it extremely risky to pursue BS defamation claims. Whatever legal fees D Magazine racks up defending itself from Dr. McCullough’s attempt to convert butthurt into an actionable claim very likely could end up being expenses he has to pay from his own pocket. Hopefully his attorney has apprised him of this possibility and, hopefully, has done so after allowing spellcheck to do its job.