As we mentioned in Morning Docket today, Gawker has a story about the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, smoking crack.
It’s a delightful tale about how a conservative was apparently caught on a camera phone smoking crack, slurring his speech, and calling people fa**ots. The full video isn’t available, because of course the people who shot it want money. If you want to contribute to that cause, Gawker has set up a Kickstarter fund to buy the video.
That’s all well and good. Personally I would now like to see Anthony Weiner and Rob Ford face off to become the next mayor of Buffalo. But this afternoon I really want to focus on the lawyer Rob Ford apparently hired to try to kill the Gawker story. Because Saul Goodman, he is not…
I’ve gotten a few freaked out letters from attorneys trying to kill a story that they barely understand. But I can’t recall getting something that so looks like it came from the Legal Zoom catalog of “vaguely threatening things to say to journalists who you hope are super dumb.” Here’s Gawker’s commentary and the letter:
We’ve received an email from Dennis Morris, a gentleman with a hotmail.com email address purporting to be Ford’s attorney. Here is the message. We haven’t corrected its formatting.
“Greetings;I am a lawyer,and have been contacted by Mayor Ford’s office in reference to your indicating you will post a photo of Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. Mayor Ford denies such took place,and if such posting occurs,it is false and defamatory,and you will be held legally accountable.In reference to the photo,you wish to publish, Mayor Ford has his photo taken daily,sometimes with others.
If the person you mention is now deceased,it is sad,regardless of his alleged background.
Please govern yourself accordingly.
Ken from Popehat has some excellent commentary about this:
This is delightful, like that video of the kitten freaking out when it sees a lizard.
First, nobody ever governed themselves accordingly based on a threat from a hotmail account. Second, are you using some sort of comma-based operating system? Third, what the fuck are you talking about?
If you are not a lawyer or have never received one of these things, you might not fully appreciate just how bad and useless this letter is. Let me pull out my Captain Crunch decoder rings and show you how it looked before he filled in the blanks:
[Salutations]; I am a lawyer [Don't embarrass the people you rent a cubicle from by naming a firm], and have been contacted by Mayor Ford’s office in reference to your indicating you will post a [dear God, what do they have] of Mayor Ford [dear God, what did he do]. Mayor Ford [protests too much] such took place, and if [when] such posting occurs, it [will suck for us], and you will [likely face a frivolous lawsuit]. In reference to [JUST TELL US WHAT YOU'VE GOT!] you wish to publish, Mayor Ford has [an evil twin].
If the person you mention is now deceased, it is sad, regardless of his alleged background. [Kill the story or I'll hurt myself, I swear.]
Please [please, please, please] govern yourself accordingly.
Dennis [Two first names scare people] Morris.
The forgoing, the forthcoming, and the current commentary are examples of clear parody. Also, I can’t read so any letters signed “Dennis Morris” won’t even be able to hurt my feelings.
I am really looking forward to seeing how this plays out. It’s going to be too much fun.