It’s day 98 for Barack Obama, surely he’s worked out how to use the Obamaprompter™ by now…
Or not…a quick hint: if you read what it says rather than making up your own lines, things will be much easier…oh, and your staff will be happier as those vetted speeches tend to be more consistently in line with an administration’s message than ad-libbed speeches. They also give people like me less ammunition. Sticking to the Obamaprompter™ is a win-win for you King Obama.
Back in the days when John Laws was still on the air, he would start his show with a piece of useless information. I quite looked forward to hearing this bit of information at 9:05 each morning, even if I usually forgot it by lunch time. I would also be disappointed when Lawsie was absent as his fill-ins never provided useless information…this, oddly enough, left me filling in for Lawsie and emailing useless information to certain friends.
Last week whilst reading a forum, I was reminded of this (not that what I was reading was even remotely related to John Laws or his useless information) and I decided that I would start providing a weekly (and possibly more regular) piece of useless information here. I was going to start doing this yesterday, but with the public holiday and the amount of people visiting this information about Mike Jeffreys, I decided to leave the Jeffreys story at the top of page, and hold this rather trivial piece of fun nonsense until today. In future I won’t ramble on like this before the useless information, but I thought it would help to put the weekly feature in context if I did so on this occasion.
Anyway, without further rambling and delays, this week’s useless information is…
A federal appeals court had some advice Friday for anyone whose reputation gets trashed on talk radio: Don’t bother suing for slander, because no one reasonably expects objective facts from the typical talk show host.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco offered no solace to an Oregon couple who sued Tom Martino, host of a nationally syndicated consumer-advice show. In a 2004 call from a customer of the couple’s recreational vehicle outlet who complained about the store’s failure to repair a defective personal watercraft, Martino told her, “They’re just lying to you.”
That’s not slander, the court said, because slander and its written counterpart, libel, are false statements of fact that damage someone’s reputation. An assertion that might otherwise sound factual – that the retailer lied – would be interpreted as opinion by any reasonable talk show listener, the court said.
Martino’s program “contains many of the elements that would reduce the audience’s expectation of learning an objective fact: drama, hyperbolic language, an opinionated and arrogant host, and heated controversy,” the three-judge panel said, upholding a judge’s dismissal of the suit.
Besides, the court said, Martino was obviously relying on the caller’s version of the facts and had no apparent reason to question it. That means he was just giving his own opinion of someone else’s account, and wasn’t making factual claims of his own, the panel said, citing a past ruling that allowed similar reliance on news articles.
Independently of this story, a similar thing happened to me last week. I was talking to someone about the upcoming demolition of the Belconnen Bus Interchange and they started probing me for information because, a few days earlier, they had gone to the ACTION information shopfront in Civic for information, only to be told by the bloke manning the booth that they “don’t have any information about it”…clearly nonsense considering that the information has been on their website for some time. My reaction to this story was “well, he’s [the person at the ACTION booth] either an idiot or he lied to you”.
I am forced to wonder whether ACTION, or the person manning the booth, would be mounting a defamation case against me today if this had played out in a broadcast situation…or if in fact they will consider coming after me now that I have written this? Whilst I don’t consider my comment to be defamatory in the slightest, I have to admit that I don’t trust the Australian court system to come to the same conclusion.