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The Council Has Spoken!! This Week’s Watcher’s Council Results

Submitted by on December 30, 2011 – 12:53 pm ESTNo Comment

The Watcher’s Council

Welcome to the last Watcher’s Council posting of 2011! We’d like to wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Seeing as 2012 is just around the corner, I polled some of our illustrious Council members to get their picks on some of the most notable people and events of the past year:

The Noisy Room
Person of the Year: Glenn Beck.
Event of the Year: Passage of S 1867 – NDAA

Rhymes With Right
Person of the Year: Paul Ryan, for his efforts to totally remake medicare and place it on firm financial footing.
Event of the Year: Obama’s Illegal Undeclared War In Libya. Yes, it ended the Qadaffi regime, but at what cost to the Constitutional order here in the United States?

Right Truth
Person of the Year: Tim Tebow

The Razor
Person of the Year: Turkish PM Recep Erdogan. Turkey’s pivot to Islam away from secularism is going to reverberate through the region for years.
Event of the Year: The Japanese tsunami. I’ve never seen any natural disaster like it and the videos were some of the most chilling I’ve ever seen. Popping Bin Laden is a close 2nd.

Bookworm Room
Person of the Year: Obama in a negative way; Tim Tebow in a positive way.
Event of the Year: The Euro’s collapse and/or the withdrawal from Iraq, an ignominious retreat from a war we actually won.

Simply Jews
Person of the Year: Muammar Qadaffi
Event of the Year: Stems from A) – guess what ;-)

The Colossus of Rhodey
Person of the Year: Arab “Spring” participants who’ve fooled the media around the world into thinking they’re democrats but in reality are just more Muslim fundies.
Event of the Year: Japanese tsunami and subsequent nuke reactor destruction.

Glittering Eye
Person of the Year: For notable individual I’d pick Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor whose self-immolation was the spark that ultimately overthrew the government in Tunisia and lead to the upheavals in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria and elsewhere in MENA that are being called the “Arab Spring”
Event of the Year: I think that Scott’s got it right on the notable event; the tsunami that struck Japan.

The Right Planet
Person of the Year: Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer
Event of the Year: Japanese Tsunami. Tens of thousands killed and radiation to boot. What a horrible disaster. Bustin’ a cap in Osama would be my second too. I’m with Scott on this one. Of course our debt has now surpassed our GDP. That’ll probably be next year’s most notable event–financial collapse.

The Mellow Jihadi
Person of the Year: SEAL Team Six
Event of the Year: Arab Spring

Joshuapundit
Person of the Year: Rep. Col. Allen West
Event of the Year: A toss up between our retreat from Iraq and the Tsunami.

And now, without further ado, let’s move on to this week’s winners.

This week’s winner, Bookworm Room’s A case regarding citizen journalists proves, once again, that bad facts make for bad law dealt with the case of a blogger who was successfully sued for libel and the implications of that legal ruling. Here’s a slice:

When I first saw the headline — “A $2.5 Million Libel Judgment Brings The Question : Are Bloggers Journalists?” — I have to admit that I felt a bit queasy. When I write something snide about President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, or any of the other prominent Democrats I routinely criticize at this site, am I exposing myself to massive liability? Well, probably not, because they’re public figures and we have enormous latitude to criticize them. But what about a post I might write criticizing, not a political figure, but a local businessman. Can he sue me . . . and win?

The answer, it seems to me, is that Mr. Businessman is just as likely to win against blogger as he would have been if, in the old days, I sent nasty letters to the editor, distributed flyers or otherwise widely and impugned his character. If my statements are true, I win. If they’re false, I lose. I would have been at risk in the old days and I’m still at risk in the new if I choose to shout out lies from an electronic rooftop.

So why is the $2.5 million dollar libel judgment an issue? Because the blogger in question sought to protect herself by claiming that she was a journalist, not a blogger. She therefore contended that Shield Laws allowed her to hide her sources while successfully protesting her innocence in a defamation lawsuit. When the judge said she wasn’t a journalist, bloggers got nervous. After all, we bloggers consider ourselves a “new media,” providing information that the old media, usually for political reasons, often leaves on the cutting room or newsroom floor. What’s unnerving is that, if we’re not journalists, even when we scrupulously present facts, we’re still at risk of litigation, something that has a very chilling effect even on the most honest writer.

As is so often true with legal cases, though, the details should be comforting — and this is true despite the fact that I think the judge committed a definitional error that must be redressed. This case, though, is not going to be the one that makes correcting that legal error easy, because the facts really militate against the blogger. By any standard, Crystal Cox, the defendant against whom the district court judge imposed the $2.5 million libel judgment, was not making any effort to conduct herself according to journalistic norms. Instead, Cox was the journalistic equivalent of a vexatious litigant.

In our non-Council Category, this week’s winner was a masterful piece by Victor Davis Hanson, A Vandalized Valley submitted by The Noisy Room. It deals with what is happening in California’s Central Valley, once one of the richest and most fertile farmlands in America. And classicist that he is, it’s Vandals VDH is talking about, as in the fall of Rome. Do read it.

Here are this week’s full results:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next year! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!

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