Friday, May 09, 2008

Wagner Levels Defamation Charges Against Brian Howey And Ryan Nees

Jen Wagner is serving Brian Howey and Ryan Nees of the Howey Political Report with notice that she believes a column penned by the teen-aged Nees in the Howey Political Report making references to certain alleged actions on her part as spokesperson for Jim Schellinger's gubernatorial campaign is defamatory. Wagner is upset at a passage in Nees' column about an e-mail Nees implies that she may have sent out under Rober Kellar's name on behalf of the Schellinger campaign to discredit Jill Long Thompson, which she says is untrue. Explaining her position, Wagner writes:

Not only is his assertion not based in reality, but it is potentially damaging to my reputation, and he offered it as fact with no attribution or basis. No such e-mail was ever sent by me or Robert. (I just checked, and the press release addressing the House Banking Scandal was sent on March 27 by Candace Martin. The last e-mail sent by Robert Kellar from the campaign was on Feb. 29. I would be more than happy to provide those records for your review.) Also, for your information, I advocated very strongly against the use of the House Banking Scandal in the campaign. You or Ryan could and should have contacted me prior to publishing the article, and I'd have been happy to set the record straight. Unfortunately, you both chose not to do so, and I am contacting you as the publisher of Ryan's material.

Wagner says she is not planning legal action against Howey and Nees at this time, but she is demanding the column be removed from his website and a correction or retraction be made in next week's publication. "As you well know, I am perfectly willing to endure the hyperbolic slings and arrows that come with working in politics," Wagner writes. "I am not, however, willing to endure this kind of grossly negligent disregard for the truth."

I don't know all the facts behind this, but I certainly respect Wagner's position if she believes the column represents she took certain actions in which she had no part. As you know, I've been in that exact same position in the past. I don't believe Brian would deliberately set out to maliciously defame Wagner, although he and Wagner have certainly had their differences after Wagner made some less than flattering comments about his grammar skills. He once dubbed her the "nastiest woman in Indiana politics." Having been on the receiving end of some of her personal attacks (e.g., suggesting I'm mentally unstable, a certifiable nut, cracking up, etc.), I understand Howey's point of view. Nees, although fresh out of high school, is an impressive young lad with great writing skills. I'm sure he will correct any mistakes, if any, he made in his initial reporting.

UPDATE: Ryan Nees has acknowledged he made a mistake in his column concerning the e-mail in question. "Jennifer is correct that the press release was e-mailed from Candace Martin, not Robert Kellar," Nees said. "This has now been corrected. I regret the error. "

UPDATE II: Wagner is not satisfied with Nees' correction as you can see from the comment she posted below. She writes, "Unfortunately, you didn't correct the overarching issue -- that I didn't send that press release." "The nature of your tightly written correction still implies that I somehow had clandestine access to Jim's e-mail blast system and was sending things using other people's names." "That was the crux of my original complaint, and you have yet to address it." "Your allegation remains false, and I would appreciate a further retraction."

14 comments:

Kurt Luidhardt said...

I have very little sympathy for Jen Wagner. Crying about unfair treatment from the media seems awfully lame considering her publication standards at TDW.

Bart Lies said...

Can dish it out but can't take it, it seems.

Sir Hailstone said...

Ditto to what Kurt said

iPOPA said...

Kurt:

Find something she's printed that's defamatory, and we'll talk about TDW. People can state opinions and interpretations that are shrill and with which you disagree. But you can't make facts up or act with reckless disregard for their veracity in a way that hurts someone's career without expecting repercussions. I admire her restraint, honestly, because in her field, being known as one who plays dirty politics is NOT a compliment. (For cross-reference, see Advance Indiana article on Barack Obama).

Watcher on the wall said...

"I have very little sympathy for Jen Wagner. Crying about unfair treatment from the media seems awfully lame considering her publication standards at TDW." - Kurt Luidhardt

Oh Snap! you said it before I did! TDW was filled with hateful lies, rumors and innuendo with her at the helm.

If you dared post against the grain there you were attacked by the masses of foaming mouth libs who are the vocal majority there.

Now that she is not running it it has descended into vulgar hateful lies, rumors and innuendo.

Watcher on the wall said...

Jen whining about being skewered on a blog?!?!!? What a hypocrite!!!

TDW was nothing but lies, rumors and innuendo. Jen being the queen bee amongst the drones.

And God forbid you post something against the grain there, as you are attacked by people who have no clue who you are or what you do!

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

She allowed (even encouraged) the defamation/labeling of Melyssa as a prostitute in several comments on the TDW blog last summer.

Just put Melyssa's name in the search feature of the TDW blog to read the comments.

Bart Lies said...

Is it better to sabre-rattle than to take a young, inexperienced writer aside to explain and teach, perhaps even gain an ally? Especially for such a minor error?

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

Good point, Bart Lies. I went to Ryan's site. He's super sharp. She likely made an enemy rather than friend of him. No doubt he is going places.

And to think...he's from Kokomo.

Ryan N said...

Jennifer is correct that the press release was emailed from Candace Martin, not Robert Kellar. This has now been corrected. I regret the error.

Jen said...

Ryan,

Unfortunately, you didn't correct the overarching issue -- that I didn't send that press release. The nature of your tightly written correction still implies that I somehow had clandestine access to Jim's e-mail blast system and was sending things using other people's names.

That was the crux of my original complaint, and you have yet to address it.

Your allegation remains false, and I would appreciate a further retraction.

I'm not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, but you need to understand that there's a huge difference between opinion journalism ("Wagner is a jackass, and I don't like her.") and fact journalism ("Wagner logged on using other people's e-mail addresses to send out press releases for a gubernatorial candidate.")

You have not substantiated your case, nor can you because the allegation you printed as fact is simply untrue.

I'm not going to belabor the point, but if you're going to casually sling things you think are true as fact, you'd best be sure you're actually dealing with fact, not hearsay, rumor and innuendo.

In this case, it would have been fairly easy for you to verify your story before writing, as opposed to having to correct sloppy, third-party-sourced reporting after the fact.

You know where to find me, as does the publisher of the Howey Political Report. All of this could have been avoided with a simple e-mail or phone call.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

Jen? Question here. Why in the hell didn't you stop people on your blog like Wilson from calling me a prostitute and other choice labels? Your hypocrisy regarding the truth is astounding. You should clean up your own blog before you go complaining about what others say about you.
.
By the way, it was satisfying to watch Schellenger get tossed! First Peterson, now Schellinger.
--Melyssa

your-bartender said...

The comments about you were not off the mark, Melyssa, and if anyone thought that they were just lies, rumor and innuendo those doubts were dispelled with that Indianapolis Monthly article. Face it. Some people just can't stand you.

I'll be awaiting a comment or two from one of your other ID's defending yourself.

Wilson46201 said...

Melyssa: At NO time did I ever call you a prostitute anywhere! I did say that you have frequently been called a trollop so you should be careful with your own hateful invective and incessant name-calling of others...