Tina Jacobson, a former official of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, has filed a defamation lawsuit against John and/or Jane Doe for comments allegedly posted by the defendant using the pseudonym “almostinnocentbystander” on The Spokesman-Review newspaper’s blog, Huckleberries Online (HBO). Believing that HBO’s administrator knows John and/or Jane Doe’s true identity, Jacobson’s attorney issued a subpoena to compel the HBO administrator to identify that person’s true identity plus the identities of two pseudonymous witnesses. The Spokesman-Review sought to quash the subpoena, and yesterday First District Court Judge John P. Luster issued his memorandum decision on the motion to quash.
Addendum 07-12-12: This article ran in today’s Los Angeles Times. What the Times writer failed to make clear is that Judge Luster’s opinion did not represent that HBO is a news blog. Rather, Judge Luster clearly stated it was an opinion blog and that its administrator was not functioning as a news reporter in administering it. Thus, any persons commenting on the blog are not entitled to be characterized as confidential news sources in the same manner as, say, “Deep Throat” was during the Washington Post’s reporting of the Watergate scandal.
Everyone who posts comments and original material on websites like HBO or OpenCdA ought to carefully read and understand Judge Luster’s memorandum. It will help clarify many of the questions commenters and posters have about such issues as prohibited defamation versus lawful criticism, opinion websites versus news services, and the limits of protection by posting anonymously.
Assuming Jacobson’s defamation lawsuit now proceeds, the decision reporting its outcome should be equally informative.
OpenCdA readers should clearly understand that, unlike The Spokesman Review, we make no representation that we are a news organization. We will remove posts and comments which do not meet the OpenCdA Policy for comments and posts. Persons posting comments and material are responsible for the content.