Yep. Believe it or not, THAT is an idea being given serious consideration in the circles around House Speaker Tim Moore. Nick Ochsner is the reporter for WBTV who publicized irregularities — like paying himself, paying rent to himself, etc. etc. — in Moore’s campaign finance report.
That reporting has led to other reporting of allegations against Moore lieutenants Kelly Hastings and David Lewis. Ochsner has even broached the subject of an FBI investigation of House leadership. (Sources tell me it’s getting downright creepy and tiresome how Moore is starting off just about every communication with some variation of “I am not being investigated by the FBI.” Who was it who said ”Methinks he doth protest too much?”)
Most politicians learn that if you keep your head down and lay low, stories blow over and the media and the public focus on something else. Look how well it’s worked for the Nineteen-Thousand Dollar Man.
But quite a few sources on and around Jones Street tell me that Moore is seriously considering suing Ochsner over his reporting. If that’s true, on the face of it, it comes off as a pure attempt to intimidate. Other drivebys should take note and be concerned.
As a former driveby, who regularly got threatened with lawsuits, I have some perspective to offer on this. First, Moore is a public figure. Criticism of public figures is protected by all kinds of legal precedent and that lil’ ol’ First Amendment thing. Moore does have the option of suggesting malice on Ochsner’s part. But he would have to show that Ochsner knowingly disseminated false information with the intent to damage Moore. The problem there? All of Ochsner’s reporting has been thoroughly documented. Much of his evidence came right off of Moore’s campaign report. Where is the falsehood?
It’s also on the record that, at one time, Moore tried to hire Ochsner. (Moore supporters have suggested Ochsner tried to get a job, was turned down, and grew resentful and vindictive.) Ochsner has an email trail indicating (1) that Moore’s people approached him, and (2) he turned them down because he wanted to stay in the Charlotte area.
Many of you may not know, but reporters typically are paid worse than public school teachers. So, if Moore were to sue and win, he likely wouldn’t get much. He could go after Ochsner’s employer — WBTV. Mark Twain once, regarding the press, said ”never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”
You COULD modernize that quote by Mr. Clemens to include people with laptops and cameras and LARGE AUDIENCES.