My mind has been living in 2005 lately. No, not Hurricane Katrina, Bush's second term or even the launch of YouTube, but remembering the late Myrna Been.
She was the mayor of Larkspur 16 years ago and had a burning dislike of the family that owned the annual Colorado Renaissance Festival in town. At a picnic table outside the Larkspur Country Store, the mayor was pretty lathered up when she told me the owner of the festival once offered her a bribe.
I called T.R. Rice, a big-deal lawyer in Denver who represented the festival. He said he would check it out, and I made an appointment to stop by his office for an explanation. It never happened, said T.R., who was earning a nice check from the town's ongoing litigation.
“It’s time for Myrna to start writing some checks,” he told me.
Being a troublemaker, I called the mayor to tell her she was about to get sued and asked if she wanted retract the bribe story. She did not. The truth would set her free of damages, she insisted.
The town's insurance company, however, settled up out of court. Since the agreement was undisclosed, I never heard how much of the $100,000 in damages or lawyers’ fees the festival collected.
I think of that as Donald Trump’s stolen election charade unfolds in courtrooms. A lot of other Coloradans are about to write some checks, and they could make $100K look like tip money at Casa Bonita.
Dominion Voting Systems, a LoDo-based company that employs about 250 Coloradans, has been accused by the former president's allies of conspiring with foreign interests to rig their electronic equipment to cheat Trump. The list of conspirators, thanks to Colorado activist Joe Oltmann and El Paso County's Michelle Malkin, included Antifa.
Now you need a roster to keep up with the lawsuits and countersuits. Trump made lawyers' billable hours great again.
I spent the morning and part of the afternoon last Friday listening to Denver-based U.S. District Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter upbraid a pair of local lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker, over their already dismissed class-action lawsuit that alleged a broad, vague conspiracy to steal the elections.
“Did you or your co-counsel actually conduct any, uh, investigation?” the judge asked.
Fielder said he sent emails, but no one answered them.
The most likely sanction will be paying the defendants’ legal bills.
The accused included Dominion, Facebook, Facebook's boss Mark Zuckerberg and his wife were among the 18 named defendants, along with "Does 1 to 10,000," as the lawsuit put it. Taxpayer-funded lawyers defended governors and election officials from four states (none of them Colorado), who must get paid.
Expensive representation? None of these defendants hired a lawyer off a billboard, let’s put it that way.
This particular case was never about overturning the election, but rather cashing in if Trump was successful in doing so.
The suit purported to defend the interests of 160 million voters who allegedly were deprived of a fair election. The damaged were set by the plaintiffs' lawyers at $1,000 for each voter, or about $160 billion. Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.
Fielder and Walker put a website soliciting donations to press the case, after they filed it in December. Fielder said in court it brought in about $95,000 from about 2,100 donors.
In other court action, Dominion is suing Trump lawyers’ Rudy Giuliani and Sidney “Release the Kraken” Powell for $1.3 billion each, the same amount it sought from Trump loyalist Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder and pitchman, who has made broad and deep allegations against the company, including producing a documentary and paying to put it on the air.
New York suspended Giuliani's law license, adding more tarnish to his once-great legacy.
Powell sought to dismiss the case against her by alleging no reasonable person should have taken what she said as fact. People who are about to shell our their personal and professional fortunes based on a the big Kraken lie she told can only say ouch.
Accountability has been a long time coming in this anything-goes media environment, and politics and profiteering go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. Big media eats from the same trough.
Not a shred of solid evidence against Dominion has survived. Media outlets such as Fox News, One America News Network, Newsmax and others then immediately began walking back the allegations passed off as fact or, as the networks will claim, opinion. Newsmax even apologized.
Monday morning I saw former veteran Fox News reporter Carl Cameron on CNN, my former employer. He left Fox News in 2017 and now works as the chief political correspondent for the progressive news aggregator Front Page Live.
He explained what drives the bus for news networks that put their opinion hosts out front of their news, speaking specifically about the conspiracy theories espoused by Tucker Carlson on Cameron’s old network.
“Their job, their reward is bringing eyeballs on television” the veteran newsman told hosts Brianna Keller and John Berman. “All they’ve got to do is keep people watching until it’s commercial time, and then it’s ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching for the network.
“It works really well in prime time, but it’s not news.”
The defense against libel and slander is truth. The ink on these checks are tinted by lies.