Federal Judge Rules Montana Blogger is Not a Journalist

This is a story of, as David Codrea of the Gun Rights Examiner put it, “arbitrary tyranny.”

Crystal L. Cox is a investigative blogger.  She is also a self-described PR Consultant, Real Estate Broker Owner, Search Reputation Manager, Corruption Media Services, Real Estate Whistleblower, Nutritional Health Consultant — and recently she was the defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed by Obsidian Finance Group LLC and attorney Kevin Patrick.

She lost the defamation lawsuit in court and a jury awarded the plaintiffs $2.5 million in damages.

What did she say about Mr. Patrick and the Obsidian Finance group to deserve such a hefty fine?

Something about Mr. Patrick being a “thug” and a “thief.”  According to the Jury those remarks were libelous because Mr. Patrick is not a public figure and her articles about him and his company were not in the public interest.

Where the case gets interesting is regarding the Judge’s ruling with respect to the difference between a blogger and a journalist.

See, if Ms. Cox was considered a “journalist” and not a mere “blogger” she would have been privy to certain legal protections that may have helped save her hide.  For one thing, if she were part of the mainstream media or a traditional journalist, Mr. Patrick would need to request an official retraction before he sued for damages.

montana blogger coxAccording to the AP, here’s what U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez had to say about the difference between a blogger like Cox and a real ‘journalist,’ “Cox was not a journalist because she offered no professional qualifications as a journalist or legitimate news outlet. She had no journalism education, credentials or affiliation with a recognized news outlet, proof of adhering to journalistic standards such as editing or checking her facts, evidence she produced an independent product or evidence she ever tried to get both sides of the story.”

But as David Codrea points out, who the hell is Hernández to make that distinction?

Codrea wrote, “The presumption by Hernández, that he is either competent or authoritative in the matter of who qualifies as a journalist is an act of arbitrary tyranny. And it’s one that actually runs contrary to long-established federal precedent.”

Codrea highlighted an article published by ABC News that said, “Are bloggers part of the news media?  The U.S. government — led by two of its most secretive agencies — is increasingly saying, ‘Yes, they are’… The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have altered policies to indicate they’re taking blogs seriously, and a growing number of public offices are actively reaching out to the blogosphere.”

If blogs and bloggers are good enough for the CIA and the NSA, why are they not good enough to be considered part of the “media?”

Is the mainstream media more trustworthy than a reputable blog?

I suppose, at this point, you’re wondering what this has to do with guns.  Well, it’s probably quite obvious to many of you how much goes unreported, particularly with respect to unbiased gun news and information.  Also troubling is the dearth of coverage with respect to ATF malfeasance and abuse (Operation Fast and Furious, Operation Wide Receiver, using failed ATF polices to push gun control, etc).

So, out of curiosity and to use this Cox story a springboard for further conversation, where do you get your news and information from?  And who do you trust to deliver it?  Does it matter if that individual is a blogger or a journalist?

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