Philly Inquirer Declares War on Tattletot

Cease and desist, they say

Joshua Scott Albert runs Tattletot, a gossip site that first broke the explosive story of iCandy and its racist owner making extremely disparaging comments in his office about his own customers.

Recently, Albert put up a story entitled “It’s Certainly Possible DA Candidate Tariq El-Shabazz Is a Pedophile Who Fucks Dogs“.  And there’s another “The Inquirer Editorial Board is So Stupid That I Now Have Their Twitter Account“.

This apparently has upset the staff at the Inquirer and Daily News and they have sic’d a lawyer on Albert, imploring him to cease and desist, trying to scare him with the threat of civil litigation and insisting that he’s deflowering the Inquirer’s good name and brand due to the posts.

To be fair, the Inquirer staff and its management knows what Albert is famous for: Staphmeal and for putting trash pages up on Facebook that upset the Fraternal Order of Police that prompted a criminal prosecution of Albert.

This raises an interesting issue as the Inquirer has long had to defend itself against defamation suits from the subjects they cover in their stories.  They also know that Tattletot is classed as a satire and gossip website that provides entertainment.   There’s also plenty of case law surrounding websites like Tattletot that affords it free-speech protection, including the use of corporate branding with those parodies.

Most importantly, the Inquirer should know better that nobody who has basic Internet skills would ever construe that Tattletot is in some way co-mingled with the Inquirer and Daily News brands and that Albert’s writing is sponsored by the publisher.  There’s not even any way that the Philadelphia Media Network could prove that it’s suffering or highly likely to suffer financial damage because of brand confusion.

Really… this threat is super silly.  If the Inquirer’s lawyers want to pursue this case, then they’re undercutting all of their own complaints about the importance of journalism.   Will the Inquirer “die in darkness” because of Tattletot?

Hardly.