Asshat / First Amendment

Hats Off to Frederick News-Post for Kirby Delauter Editorial

frederickHats Off to Frederick News-Post for Kirby Delauter Editorial

Frederick County is Maryland’s best kept secret.  While Baltimore, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore are well-known tourist destinations, Frederick County is tucked away in the Catoctin Mountains near Pennsylvania and includes quaint historic Frederick.  When Frederick County is in the news it is usually because of events at its most famous weekend home – Camp David.

Today, however, Twitter, the national press and even the BBC are all talking about Frederick County Council member Kirby Delauter of Thurmont, Maryland.  Delauter objected to a story run by the local Frederick News and stated in a Facebook post:

So let me be clear…………do not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future

The reporter responded “[i]t is not just our right but our responsibility to report on people like you, who occupy positions of trust in our government, and I make no apologies for doing that.”  To which Delauter replied

.Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an Attorney.  Your rights stop where mine start.

The kirby2Frederick News-Post did what any responsible paper would do – it tore him a new one in an editorial with a headline that read Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter.  Over the course of 13 paragraphs, the editors printed Delauter’s name and variations on it – dozens of times. And the first letter of every paragraph spelled out “KIRBY DELAUTER”.  The editorial began

Knowing Councilman Kirby Delauter as we do, we weren’t surprised that he threatened The Frederick News-Post with a lawsuit because we had, he says — and we’re not making this up — been putting Kirby Delauter’s name in the paper without Kirby Delauter’s authorization. Attorneys would be called, Kirby Delauter said.

In fact, we spent quite some time laughing about it. Kirby Delauter, an elected official; Kirby Delauter, a public figure? Surely, Kirby Delauter can’t be serious? Kirby Delauter’s making a joke, right?

In a separate article, the editor commented that Delauter may refuse to comment on a story “but to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I’m speechless. It’s just a pointless, misguided attempt to intimidate and bully the press and shows an astonishing lack of understanding of the role of a public servant.”

Surprisingly, Delauter’s position garnered some support from his fellow conservatives, which led the editors to make an important point

Discernibly, though, Kirby Delauter’s ignorance of what journalism is and does is no joke, and illustrates one disturbing aspect too prevalent in conservatives’ beliefs: That the media are all-liberal stooges hell-bent on pursuing some fictional leftwing agenda. Generally this “fact” is bleated when the facts on the ground differ from conservative talking points. Take Councilman Billy Shreve’s abstract, almost nonsensical defense of KD*: “I think media outlets are cowards and they hide behind the label of journalists and that’s a bully pulpit to expand their liberal” agenda. Cowards? Tell that to the families of the 60 journalists killed in 2014, or the 70 in 2013, or the 74 who died in 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. All in pursuit of the truth, or the most reliable version of it at hand in the most dangerous regions of the world.

The editors concluded

. . .  Edifying as it may be to lapse into name calling — and yes, we allowed ourselves a little childishness above and maybe a little bit below — we need to make one serious point the councilman needs to hear and understand: We will not bow to petty intimidation tactics because a local politician thinks he can score political points with his base throwing around empty threats.

Just as our national anthem celebrates nearby Baltimore’s withstanding British bombardment in the turning point of the War of 1812, the Frederick News-Post have provided another noteworthy defense of American ideals.  In the process, they have put Frederick on the map for something other than a President and hopefully will cause the unacquainted to explore this charming corner of Maryland.

Frederick Hat


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