A county councilman in Maryland recently threatened a local newspaper with legal action if it dared to even mention his name without prior permission.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter blasted Frederick News-Post reporter Bethany Rodgers for using his name in an article in which Republican council members were complaining that Democratic County Executive Jan Gardner would not give them enough parking spaces.
“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,” Delauter wrote.
Rodgers replied to his post by pointing out that there was “no requirement to get a person’s authorization in order to mention them in the paper, particularly if that person is an elected official.”
“It 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,” she said.
Delauter fired back with a threat of legal action.
“Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an Attorney,” he insisted. “Your rights stop where mine start.”
Republican Councilman Billy Shreve, who had spearheaded the parking complaints, told the News-Post that Delauter would be right to pursue legal action against the paper.
“I did not see his post, but I think the News-Post is extremely biased and someone should sue them,” Shreve opined. “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).”
News-Post managing editor Terry Headlee was stunned that an elected official would threaten a media outlet for doing its job.
“Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story,” Headlee noted. “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.”
County Executive Jan Gardner agreed.
“All public officials are really subject to the news and should expect to be written about,” Gardner observed. “Most of us would love to be written about positively all the time, but that’s never the case.”