Sergeant Friday’s job involves fact finding. Here’s an episode of Blognet that first ran four years ago today.
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NARRATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
MUSIC: Up, then under …
NARRATOR: You’re a Detective Sergeant. You’re assigned to Internet Detail. Bloggers are being harassed by a convicted terrorist who is suing them for writing about his past. Nothing they’ve written appears to be false, but there is a gap in the terrorists bio. Your job … investigate.
MUSIC: Up then under …
ANNOUNCER: Blognet … the documented drama of an actual case. For the next few minutes, in cooperation with the Twitter Town Sheriff’s Department, you will travel step by step on the side of the good guys through an actual case transcribed from official files. From beginning to end, from crime to punishment, Blognet is the story of the good guys in action.
MUSIC: Up and out.
SOUND: Footsteps in hallway.
FRIDAY: It was Wednesday, May 23rd. It was a warm spring day in Westminster. We were working the day watch out of Internet Detail. My partner’s Liz Smith. The Boss is Twitter Town Sheriff W. J. J. Hoge. My name’s Friday. It was 12:32 pm when we returned from lunch to Room S-140. Internet Detail.
SOUND: Door opens. Footsteps across room.
SMITH: So it looks as if there’s going to be substantial participation in that blogburst on Friday.
SOUND: Chairs pulled out.
FRIDAY: UH, huh.
SMITH: I can’t believe that judge said that he would ignore a Supreme Court precedent.
FRIDAY: It’ll get overturned on appeal, but, yeah, that gag order is blatantly unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the Boss wants us to dig up more background on this Timberland fellow.
SMITH: Well, we’ve got a pretty good record up to the turn of the century. His crimes in Texas and Indiana are reasonably well documented in the biography that Mark Songbird wrote, and his time in prison after his parole was revoked is covered by all those lawsuits.
FRIDAY: Yeah. My favorite is the one where he sued because the Bureau of Prisons wouldn’t let him have an electric guitar.
SMITH: I guess it’s time to exercise our google-fu.
FRIDAY: You handle that. I’ll get down to some of the courthouses to check the paper records that aren’t online. Be careful.
FRIDAY: Given the level of BS on everything related to Timberland, you’ll want to wash you hands after handling the data.
MUSIC: Stinger and under.
FRIDAY: I made a tour of all the relevant courthouses in Maryland and had a colleague check in New York. Except for some traffic tickets and a civil case about an unpaid bill, there was nothing to be found with Timberland’s name on it.
Friday, May 25th. The blogburst about Timberland went off with several hundred blogs participating.
Monday, May 28th. Liz and I rotated to the evening watch.
Thursday, May 31st, 8:49 pm.
SMITH: Hey, Joe! Look at this.
FRIDAY: Whatcha got?
SMITH: It looks like the blogger Timberland has been after got SWATted.
FRIDAY: Uh, huh. And on the same day that the unconstitutional gag order was overturned. What a coincidence! By the way, how’s that research on Timberland going.
SMITH: There’s a surprisingly small digital footprint, at least under his own name. There are a lot of apparent sock puppets. He appears to have a couple on Twitter, and he has had several through the years on Internet forums such as Leftwing Underground.
SMITH: Yeah. This is one of his socks back in 2007, back when he was still trying to sell the story that he had been a political prisoner: “So his sentence was shortened and he was let out. And then he sued and got a big settlement from the DOJ.”
FRIDAY: But there’s no record of the suit. Even if it were sealed, the case caption and case number would be on record. And his Parole Commission records show that he’s off supervised parole, but his sentence isn’t up until sometime in 2030.
SMITH: Of course. This is from the same post: “And the great writer Mark Songbird—you wonder why he is no longer a best-selling author? It’s because of his hit job on Timberland—he was sued by more than a dozen people over that book because Songbird lied, misled them and slandered them. And what do you think happened? Well, the publisher killed the book after one printing, stopped the paperback publication, and then Songbird settled the case for big money and gave up the rights for a movie. And now no one wants Songbird to write books anymore.”
FRIDAY: Again, there’s no record of any such lawsuits.
SMITH: Yeah, but what’s particularly stupid about the claim is that Songbird published a couple of books in 2004 and 2005 that sold well. Those are easy facts to check. It took me under a minute on Google.
FRIDAY: Uh, huh. I read one of those books, but Timberland wouldn’t have liked it.
SMITH: Why not?
FRIDAY: It was a book about unusual stories from around America. One of the chapters was about the execution of the Oklahoma City bomber.
MUSIC: Up and under.
NARRATOR: On July 5th, an appeal trial was held in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Montgomery County on the peace order Timberland had obtained against the blogger. In a moment, the result of that trial.
ANNOUNCER: Spring has sprung, but we’ll still have some chilly weather for a few more weeks. A Team Lickspittle hoodie could be just the thing to keep you comfortable on one of those not-too-cold days ahead. It’s exclusively available along with lots of other goodies at The Hogewash Store. Stop by today and spend some of your hard earned cash in support of Team Lickspittle. Or hit the Tip Jar. They’re both ways you can support the Team.
NARRATOR: On July 5th, an appeal trial was held in the Circuit Court on the peace order Timberland had obtained in the District Court. The court found that Timberland was unable to produce evidence to support any statutory basis for a peace order. Accordingly, the peace order petition was denied.
MUSIC: Theme up and under.
ANNOUNCER: You have just heard Blognet, a series of authentic cases from official files. Technical advice comes from the office of the Twitter Town Sheriff’s Department.
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
ANNOUNCER: Blognet is a work of fiction. Anyone who thinks it’s about him should read Proverbs 28:1.
This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.
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The Facts are not Team Kimberlin’s friends.