So, um, in addition to acknowledging my constitutional and statutory right to attend their press conferences (which they've refused to do), I wouldn't mind if Attorney General Rob McKenna's office stopped slandering me.
During last Thursday's incident, after calls from our lawyer (and my willingness to be arrested) forced him to blink, AGO deputy communications director Dan Sytman warned me not to be disruptive at the press conference, claiming that other reporters had complained about my behavior at other such events. It was a totally fabricated, 100 percent made up lie. In my eight years of blogging and reporting I have never behaved disruptively, inappropriately, or unprofessionally at any press conference or briefing. Ever.
In fact, I rarely even ask questions at press conferences, as I've long since learned that the answers I get in such settings aren't worth the effort.
Yet it's a lie that Solicitor General Maureen Hart repeats by implication in a letter (PDF) to The Stranger's attorney, Jessica L. Goldman:
Yesterday, I provided assurance to you that Mr. Goldstein will be allowed access to press conferences of the Attorney General's Office as a reporter for The Stranger on the same basis as other members of the media. That includes the expectation that Mr. Goldstein will not be disruptive. In this respect, I also assured you that Mr. Goldstein will not be individually cautioned in that respect. I do, however, wish to make it plain that this Office intends to protect its staff and other participants in such conferences from potential harm, and that intends to ensure that its press conferences can be conducted professionally and efficiently.
I understand that Hart is just repeating the lies she's being fed, but honestly, what an utter load of crap. If they're going to continue to attempt to sully my reputation with implied accusations of disruptive behavior, I suggest they put up or shut up. There are always TV cameras and audio recorders running at these events; if I had ever disrupted a press conference, surely there would be footage.
Of course, there isn't. But Hart continues:
I do not see much point in rehashing past events that have led to concern with Mr. Goldstein's participation in press conferences of this Office based upon his prior participation.
It would be a very brief rehashing indeed. To the best of my recollection I have had no prior participation in any press conference at the AG's office. I once attempted to ask a question of McKenna and (gasp!) a followup during the question and answer segment of a media conference call. I presume there's audio of that call as well. (As I remember it I fumbled the question, allowing McKenna to deflect it with ease.) That's the extent of my prior participation.
(Unless you count the half-hour McKenna enjoyed with me on air, March 29, 2007, on 710-KIRO. "I know AG McKenna enjoyed being your guest and we were hoping to join you again," AGO communications director Janelle Guthrie emailed me in sending condolences on the news that KIRO had cancelled my show.)
No, what Hart is referring to, and what McKenna is apparently relying on as the entire basis of his claim that I pose a threat of "disruption" and "harm," is a post I published to HA on March 25, 2010:"Are you mad as hell? Don’t take it anymore." (I suppose they thought my publisher and his attorney would be shocked to learn of my threatening rhetoric, but I'd already forwarded them the post, to which Tim replied: "Not very scary.")
Hart excerpts two paragraphs from the post, attempting to present it as a call for violence, while leaving out these two paragraphs in between that provide the context:
One of the reasons the Teabaggers have received attention far in excess of their actual numbers, is the presumably genuine anger they’re not afraid to express. They openly carry guns, or carry signs promising to use them. They mob congressmen, calling them “niggers” and “faggots”, fax nooses to their offices, and cut the gas lines of congressional relatives. They yell and they scream and they threaten and they disrupt… and they’ve been well rewarded for their efforts.
See, angry outbursts make for a good story, and thus emotion trumps policy almost every time. And that’s why it’s past time for some of us progressives to break with character and show a little genuine anger of our own.
While no doubt intentionally provocative, this was a post primarily critiquing the media for the way they lavished coverage on the violent, angry protests of the right while ignoring the peaceful protests of the left—a meme I have consistently repeated over the years. It wasn't a call to arms by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I specifically wrote that "I don’t particularly want to see any actual violence or property damage." What I suggested was, if the protesters dropping off petitions at McKenna's office wanted to attract a scrap of media coverage, the media demanded that they show some emotion. (An analysis, by the way, that was statistically borne out by the Occupy demonstrations.)
Amazingly, McKenna used that post as grounds for ordering his offices into a "modified lockdown," ironically attracting the media attention the peaceful petitioners would not otherwise have garnered. If McKenna wants to be a pathetic wuss about stuff like this, that's up to him, but his own knee-knocking paranoia isn't legal grounds for denying me my constitutional rights.
I'm not exactly sure where this dispute is going. It's Tim who pays the legal fees, so that decision is ultimately up to him. But if McKenna truly believes I'm as scary and dangerous as he's telling people I am, it's he who better seek the restraining order, because I'm going to continue showing up at his press conferences, and next time, God forbid, I might even ask a question!