Did The Times Under-Report The Roger Shuler Story?
Natasha Lennard at Salon says the matter is worse than the Paper of Record thinks, and that Shuler was mischaracterized (in what surely was an attempt at so-called “balanced” reporting):
[Shuler’s] detention is a striking abrogation of First Amendment protections.
Shuler’s is the only name listed from the Western Hemisphere in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ list of imprisoned news workers around the world. While the presence of a U.S. blogger in a U.S. prison because of his work is troubling enough from a constitutional standpoint, there is even more to Shuler’s story than was first suggested in early reports. A New York Times report on Shuler may have underplayed some chilling factors relating to the blogger’s situation.
The Times story gave the strong impression that Shuler has regularly engaged in salacious and defamatory writing about Alabama lawmakers and policymakers. Carol Shuler, Roger’s wife, spoke to Salon and claimed this was an erroneous characterization. She noted that her husband had never been sued for defamation, until two suits were filed against him at the same time.
“This is our first defamation case since starting the blog in June 2007,” Carol Shuler told Salon, noting that one other defamation suit was filed at exactly the same time as the suit by Robert Riley Jr. (son of the former governor), which landed Shuler in jail. “They both hit at the same time and we think they are linked in effort to shut us down by the power brokers in this state. But other than that we have never been sued for defamation,” Shuler stated.
Shuler has a reputation for exposing corruption and hypocrisy within the Alabama state house and Legislature. It is certainly fair to say that his journalism has earned him some powerful enemies. With this in mind, it’s worth scrutinizing not only the blogger’s imprisonment, but the rulings that led up to it — a number of which have struck legal experts as overreaching.
Lennard goes into some detail that’s well worth a read.