Newspaper mocks councilman's litigation threat

Kirby Delauter's attempt to keep his name out of the newspaper led to #kirbydelauter becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

By Ben Hooper
Frederick County, Md., Councilman Kirby Lauter. Photo courtesy
Frederick County, Md., Councilman Kirby Lauter. Photo courtesy

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FREDERICK, Md., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A Maryland county councilman's threat to sue a newspaper for using his name without permission backfired with the paper and turned him into a meme on Twitter.

Kirby Delauter, a Republican councilman in Frederick County, wrote a now-deleted Facebook post Monday slamming Bethany Rodgers, a journalist for The Frederick News-Post, for using his name in an article about parking issues.


The Monday post read:

"Shame on Bethany Rodgers for an unauthorized use of my name and my reference in her article today. She contacted me by phone yesterday, I did not return her call and did not authorize any use of my name or reference in her article. I had let her know after her hit piece during the election where she embellished, twisted and downright lied about what we discussed for that article, that she was to never contact me again since she has absolutely no morals or journalistic ability.


"Bethany, please understand, when you do a hit piece, you need to know who you're dealing with. I have worked very hard to earn an honest reputation in this county. You could have earned my respect, instead you've shown that you will sell your soul for the liberal agenda at the FNP. You're better than that, but you have already sold your credibility and that is something you won't easily get back.

"So let me be not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future."

Rodgers, who was tagged in Delauter's post, responded in a comment:

"Wow. Well, just to answer a few of these accusations: First of all, there is 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. I am also aware that you asked me not to call you anymore. However, it is a journalistic principle to reach out to individuals who are part of an article. Again, it would be irresponsible for me NOT to do so, and I plan to continue giving you the opportunity to comment on articles that concern you. Whether or not you return my calls is up to you."


Delauter replied to the comment with a threat:

"Use my name again unauthorized and you'll be paying for an attorney. Your rights stop where mine start."

The Frederick News-Post refused to back down in the face of Delauter's threatened litigation, publishing an article Wednesday with the headline, "Delauter to The News-Post: Don't use my name without permission," as well as an editorial titled "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter," which used the councilman's name 26 times.

"Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story," Terry Headlee, The News-Post's managing editor, said in the editorial. "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."

The councilman's name also became a Twitter trend, with users tweeting jokes and memes using the hashtag "#KirbyDelauter."

Rodgers thanked supporters on Twitter.

"Appreciate all the love today, Twitterverse. Thanks to you, I type the name of #KirbyDelauter without any fear tonight ;) " she tweeted.

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