Patterico's Pontifications

12/21/2012

Dana Loesch Sues Breitbart.com

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:47 pm

Daily Caller:

In a lawsuit signifying a schism in the house that Andrew Breitbart built, former BigJournalism.com editor Dana Loesch has sued Breitbart.com LLC, claiming the company refused to release her from a contract and warned other media companies away from hiring her.

Loesch, 34, is a St. Louis-based conservative radio host. She wrote in her legal filing that the fallout from her eventual departure from the Breitbart brand was an “attempt by one vindictive party to sabotage the reputation and career of another.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported on the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court Friday. Loesch seeks $75,000 in damages and a court order that her contract with Breitbart.com is legally terminated.

She alleged, basically, that she wanted out and they wouldn’t let her out.

When she decided not to renew that contract in September, Loesch claims, the company refused to acknowledge her resignation and renewed the contract for another year without her consent.

“Since that time,” the lawsuit alleges, “Defendant has made public remarks stating that Loesch is still a contributor with Breitbart.com … [and] has made remarks to its affiliates and competitors that Loesch is still exclusively engaged with Defendant as an Internet editor.”

What a shame. I like Dana and I like some of the folks at Breitbart, and have nothing else to say right now, except I miss Andrew. I think most of the people on both sides agree.

54 Responses to “Dana Loesch Sues Breitbart.com”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (1cc817)

  2. it’s like a metaphor for the petty infighting consuming Team R more broadly

    i’m glad Fox News got that marine released from the filthy mexican jail in time for Christmas

    meanwhile cnn is joining with Topps to produce a series of Sandy Hook victim trading cards (collect all 28!)

    happyfeet (ae4c7f)

  3. I thought reserve clauses died with the advent of free-agency.
    Must be everywhere except media contracts.

    What a thought, to be tied indefinitely to PMSNBC.

    askeptic (2bb434)

  4. That’s sad. I’ve been kinda disappointed with what they’ve (mostly not) been doing with Breitbart’s legacy. I don’t think he would be pleased.

    Ghost (2d8874)

  5. I’d be really interested to see that contract. I wonder if there isn’t a bit more going on here.

    Maybe she should join a union – they’re pretty good at this sort of thing. Bah-dum-bump.

    Jamie (029f5e)

  6. Happy

    There was no petty infighting – Dana is a marketable public figure who I am surprised that has not been picked as the next Fox talking head.

    I think whomever made the decision to try and keep an unhappy employee on against their expressed wishes has a lot to learn.

    EPWJ (6ac396)

  7. Fux news already has a progressive dana, but Dana Loesch would be hiring a conservative, so that won’t happen.

    mg (31009b)

  8. #2. I hadn’t heard. But that is great news.

    Jay Stevens (0335c3)

  9. What is it that compels people to comment on situations before any of the facts are known?

    WarEagle82 (97b777)

  10. I also see that Tapper has left ABC to join CNN. Perhaps he can pull them into the plus side of the ratings. I think he is as decent an MSM reporter as they come. I hope he brings a more objective and rational take in their reporting the news.

    Dana (292dcf)

  11. You don’t live in Florida, he made his reputation throwing our state’ under the bus in 2000, with his pieces in Salon, and his book ‘Down and Dirty’ part of which became the HBO film ‘Recount’ which was the first round for the directors of ‘Julianne’s Bender’ aka recount,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  12. Mentally ill people acting crazy. Continuing Breitbart’s legacy.

    Sirkowski (ef3d6b)

  13. What is it that compels people to comment on situations before any of the facts are known?

    Comment by WarEagle82 (97b777) — 12/22/2012 @ 7:32 am

    Everybody must have an opinion. I’m trying to avoid one in this scenario, although I have a feeling I know what my opinion will be when the facts emerge.

    Patterico (ca8844)

  14. Says the folks who approve of Jason Leopold,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  15. I was speaking of the troll,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  16. narciso,

    Qualifier: he is as decent an MSM reporter as they come.

    On several occasions, he has taken on Jay Carney and re-directed his obfuscations to questions and pushed him more than another MSM reporter. I remember him telling Carney that this administration wants aggressive journalism in Europe, but not here in the United States.

    Also, in August he called out the president for deceptively for attacking Paul Ryan’s plan, he called out the president last week asking, Where have you been? re his sudden action on gun control, he also pressed Jay Carney on the administration’s sell of the Benghazi/Muslim video debacle. This is more than we’ve seen of any other WH reporter, aside from perhaps, Fox reporter Ed Henry and/or Major Garrett.

    Dana (292dcf)

  17. I will concede, however, that there have been times when our host has pressed Tapper to look further into an issue and Tapper’s response (Tapper’s) was not what one would hope considering news is the air he breathes.

    Dana (292dcf)

  18. wareagle

    Dana was one of the founders of that blog who has not commented for months, there had to be a reason, and now she felt compelled to file suit.

    filing against employers can significantly and permanently damage a young persons career.

    so, you are corect that people shouldnt comment until all the facts are known is good advice, but commenting or observing that this is damaging or unfortunate is just stating the obvious

    EPWJ (b3df72)

  19. Why didn’t they just let her go? Dumbheads. She’s not my cup of tea, really but she is talented and goodwill would have done a lot more for Breitbart.com in the long run, as far as reputation and connections. Foolishness. If they taught her all she knew or somesuch it would only pad Breitbarts’ rep for her to go someplace.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  20. Oh, how I miss Andrew, too. And I agree, I like both parties equally. But I’m a bit puzzled.. how does a contract automatically obligate a party to perform past the original time period without their express written agreement? I’ll be interested to hear the rest of the details.

    ignatius (e706b3)

  21. From what I’ve been able to learn, this is essentially a matter of a newsroom management problem that spun out of control. Of course, there is only so much one can know about a situation like this from an outsider’s perspective. As a type of problem, however, this one is not so distinct as to be without precendent.

    Andrew Breitbart was not himself much interested in management; he was a visionary, an innovator, a charismatic leader. There were always problems of one sort or another inside what has been called the Breitbart “empire,” but so long as there was Breitbart — that inimitable driving genius — his brilliant energy gave purpose and direction to the behind-the-scenes chaos.

    Now? Eh … not so much.

    This kind of thing happens, not just in politics or journalism. You can find examples and precedents, and study them. You can ask questions about organizational mission, and ask how current practices and personnel are oriented toward that mission. It may be that certain things that were possible while Breitbart was alive and personally leading his “empire” simply are not possible without him. So if Breitbart’s mission involved Dana Loesch, and if Breitbart’s death required a change of mission that had the effect of sidelining Dana . . . Well, OK, it happens.

    What I simply can’t understand is why they wouldn’t let her leave, if she is no longer necessary to the organizational mission.

    Robert Stacy McCain (24d9d3)

  22. Commercial disputes happen all the time, even between the best of friends. There might be two equally plausible views on the meaning of a contract, and it doesn’t make sense for either side to unilaterally concede when a court might find in their favour. Unless someone is personally involved, I don’t see why this needs to affect our opinion of either party. I wish them both the best of luck, and hope they can work this out as quickly as possible, and with as little damage as possible to either one, so they can go back to being friends afterwards.

    Milhouse (15b6fd)

  23. What Rico said, it is a pity.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

  24. Sounds more like bridges burned, and a lot of lost goodwill (that would have been a bigger benefit than “winning” an effort to block someone from better opportunities.)

    Sarahw (b0e533)

  25. Every new organization has growing pains, I guess.

    BTW does anyone get the “attack page” warning when they go to the Daily Caller?

    Patricia (be0117)

  26. That site has been a rudderless ship since Brietbart passed. Too bad it’s come to this.

    BradnSA (e83d7d)


  27. That site has been a rudderless ship since Brietbart passed. Too bad it’s come to this.

    Comment by BradnSA (e83d7d) — 12/22/2012 @ 11:26 pm

    I’m sorry to say I think you’re absolutely correct. Perhaps the most tragic (and damaging) aspect of Andrew’s death is the void it created.

    Andrew didn’t just piss and moan about what he saw occurring – he got out there and frigging DID something. He put his ass on the line and gave as good (if not better) than he got.

    Unfortunately, the Big sites have now become as tiresome as Hot Air, without all the ridiculous pretension of limiting registration and elitist bullshtein.

    Both were removed from my bookmarks toolbar months ago.

    PS – The fact that I was banned from Hot Air for making a dick joke (“schadenboner,” to be precise) has nothing to do with the fact that that particular site is really not much more than a wonderfully efficient aggregator of reasons why liberals suck.

    I already know that. What I’d like to see is what we can do about it.

    My Sharia Moor (7ede7d)

  28. Andrew was charismatic, and fun. And just watching how he could take a story that the undead media would not cover, and keep hammering at it until they had to was great to watch.

    Andrew could surprise people with his views. Like Abbie Hoffman, who he claimed to have idolized in youth, he knew how to manipulate the news media.

    “The Empire” is not much like the man.

    tek (b36e54)

  29. Hoffman, did spectacle, but no real reporting, I’d put him more like the young Hearst,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  30. As a former liberal, I have to say that the Bigs now are just kind of outrage-y instead of thoughtful, the kind of analysis that we used to easily dismiss. Their “bombshells” end up as something less, and they’re just angry, period.

    I much prefer the thinkers (like Patrick) than the feelers.

    Patricia (be0117)

  31. What Patricia said.

    I don’t like the straining to make it be something. And anger is so easily mis-routed to something to less effective as it overshadows the pertinent point.

    Dana (292dcf)

  32. Well Breitbart focused on the Culture, so that’s gives it a harder edge some times;

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2012/12/20/bh-interview-ken-wahl-three

    Stranahan is part of Breitbart no, as the trolls don’t stop reminding us, it’s dissapointing,

    narciso (ee31f1)

  33. An edge is good, but I’m talking about losing an edge because anger dominates. That’s not strength nor gravitas. It’s just distracting. Nice link, narciso, nice photo.

    Dana (292dcf)

  34. Well that’s always a risk, when you’re an insurgent
    media organization, there are few places, except for there and Pajamas Media, for an incisive analysis of Black Liberation Theology, re Derrick Bell, to originate, which came out of the one good piece that Jodi Cantor has written in 4 years

    narciso (ee31f1)

  35. Sometimes even people who are in media or political jobs nevertheless have garden-variety legal disagreements without any political implications. Usually they get worked out before a lawsuit is filed, but even of those disputes, most of them get worked out before trial. Such litigation doesn’t have to be, and I hope this isn’t, all sturm und drang, and the resolution is typically private, often by express and mutual contractual agreement.

    (Litigation against the likes of our host’s civil-court foes, by contrast, begins with great sturm und drang, indeed with eisen und blut. But it finishes ultimately, we hope, with cold, clinical precision in delivering both just deserts and a public message.)

    Beldar (1a3f6b)

  36. (I denounce myself as a fascist militant racist goon, by the way, for that historical allusion, which obviously I intended to incite all sorts of terrible activity among the dangerous Tea Party fringe.)

    Beldar (1a3f6b)

  37. The allegations about destruction of reputation aren’t really pointing towards a dry contractual dispute.

    Even without knowing the particulars, I know that pyrrhic victories are usually only the preferred outcome when there is great insecurity about survival of an organization in general.

    Worries about non-compete clauses or loss of talent or name is foolish when there is more to be got from goodwill in the long run. (Unless one is quite convinced there is likely to only be a short run.).

    Sarahw (b0e533)

  38. Sarahw, you have a point. But I see exactly those allegations in garden-variety civil litigation among people who aren’t remotely this “famous” (and I’m already stretching that term to apply it to these litigants). They’re a common ad-on to employment disputes to try to “tortify” what’s really a contract dispute. Plaintiffs do that because intentional torts can get you punitive damages that you can’t recover in contract cases, so for the maximum “in terrorum” value to your lawsuit, you throw in those allegations in your pleadings, and you may even do some discovery on them.

    But in the real world, reputational injuries is very, very, very hard to quantify and prove at trial, and big verdicts based upon that element of damages are hart to uphold on appeal.

    What’s in the pleadings is only the starting place for figuring out what’s really going on in a lawsuit. As I said above, I hope this particular case isn’t extremely bitter and scorched-earth as it plays out.

    But even if it is, even if these litigants go at each other tooth and nail and it’s very ugly, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything about any of them for other purposes. I think it would be a mistake for us to assume, or concede to lefties, that this rift exposes some serious ideological divide among Breitbartians, for example.

    Breitbart is still here.

    Beldar (1a3f6b)

  39. Gah … multiple typos and grammatical errors in that last, sorry.

    Beldar (1a3f6b)

  40. Press accounts almost always mis-describe these lawsuits, by the way, because the reporters typically don’t have a clue about the difference between state and federal courts, federal jurisdiction, or any of that. The Daily Caller article, for example, claims that “Loesch seeks $75,000 in damages.” Bull-hockey. The complaint actually says, at paragraph 24, that she “has suffered damages as a direct result [of Breitbart.com LLC's actions] in an amount exceeding $75,000.00.” So she wants more than $75k. How much more? We don’t know. Why not? Because she doesn’t have to say yet, and hasn’t. Why did she say “more than $75,000.00″ then, specific to a penny? Because to support federal diversity subject-matter jurisdiction — to get this case based purely on state contract and tort laws into federal court — Loesch not only had to be from outside California and Breitbart.com, LLC had to be from California (meaning someone seeking justice against it might reasonably worry about whether it would get home-town advantages in its home-state state-court system, justifying a federal option), she also must have sustained at least $75k in damages. (Some years ago when I started practicing, it was only $50k. The jurisdictional minimum amount was raised to try to send more such disputes back to the state-court systems.)

    So basically the whole $75k number was a magic formula that had to be recited to keep from being booted out of federal court. That’s all, it means almost nothing when we’re trying to figure out what either litigant actually thinks the value of the case is.

    My read of the sub-text here is actually that Ms. Loesch’s attorneys were almost certainly getting their work product heavily edited by her to try to minimize bridge-burning and in particular to protect Breitbart’s personal reputation. My guess is that their pre-suit negotiations had reached impasse and this was what she and her attorneys thought was required to re-start them. But there are excellent reasons for these litigants to continuously reconsider all settlement prospects, and without knowing or implying anything about the merits of either sides’ positions, I hope they will.

    Beldar (1a3f6b)

  41. At least they putatively wanted Dana:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/iowa-court-oks-firing-female-worker-irresistibly-attractive-article-1.1226068

    Christy Turlington, now she would be ‘irresistable’.

    gary gulrud (dd7d4e)

  42. Looking at this yet again, I’d actually characterize this petition as a “more in sorrow than in anger.” One cause of action alleged, and that only for breach of contract. No claim for exemplary or punitive damages. Although as noted above, the claim for reputational injury as a consequential damage from the alleged breach of contract is kinda-sorta tort-like and ends up looking, for damages purposes, a lot like a defamation claim, but probably a weak one.

    If these folks can’t settle, her lawyers might amend to do something more aggressive. But on a 1-to-10 scale of aggression in pleadings, this maybe gets up to a two — and such weak sauce is surely deliberately cooked that way.

    Beldar (1a3f6b)

  43. Sorry for rambling, but I also ought to note:

    I don’t use that term “weak sauce” disparagingly here.

    To the contrary, it’s a very stupid and shallow advocate who always dials his pleadings up to eleven. There are times when deliberate seemliness and self-restraint is much more effective, times when being as inflammatory as possible is the very opposite of what you ought to be doing.

    Filing this lawsuit is a move by Loesch’s attorneys that can’t be ignored, and it will alter the dynamics of their discussions with Breitbart.com LLP’s counsel, I’m sure. But again, I see no reason whatsoever to make it look like a bigger or nastier fight with implications beyond this particular dispute.

    Beldar (1a3f6b)

  44. I can’t disagree with that at al.I already understood about the damages (just a threshold claim). I should clarify I don’t think she is the one burning bridges. I think,the other side cost her an opportunity or opportunities, and that this was foolish, and on its face seems vindictive and punishment for perceived disloyalty more than motivated by rational self-interest.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  45. Beldar,

    Thanks for your excellent and helpful comments.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  46. The lawsuit says that Dana Loesch had a contract for on year which could be renewed for one year, twice, and if it wasn’t, she could continue to work on a month to month basis under the terms of the old contract. If it wasn’t renewed within a month, the option to renew expired, and after that, she could quit by giving a month’s notice.

    I would guess that at the beginning of the third year they told her they were going to renew her contract, and she told them, that, no, she didn’t have a contract. Or they had a dispute about her working for others.

    It may be they were both under a misapprehension that the contract had been extended, and then Dana Loesch did some checking and discovered the contract had not been formally extended. She had never actually received anything in writing. Now I wonder if the contract called for higher pay or something in the second year, which was given.

    I find it too much of a coincidence that she attempted to give notice right at the point where a third contract year (second renewal) would begin.

    Somewhere this has to figure in.

    Or maybe…

    The lawsuit says no new contract was “fully executed” So perhaps they were negotiating a new contract, maybe she was doing that with Breitbart, and this negotiating continued for almost a year, and then the company said it won’t do it and it wants to extend the old contract – the one which was allowed to lapse.

    Another thing: The lawsuit says there were basic ideological conflicts, which sounds like this was caused by moles planted in the organization who wanted to destroy the organization’s credibility.

    In any case, Dana Loesch has now been silenced. She can’t publish anywhere.

    Sammy Finkelman (7b1b59)

  47. It is rational self-interest if the interest is Neal’s.

    Sammy Finkelman (7b1b59)

  48. Its interesting that you point that out, Beldar, that the complaint appears deliberately to be muted in claims as a deliberate tactic.

    Because I’m drafting a complaint this weekend and was considering a similar tone – I won’t claim to be as smart as you. In my drafting, the complaint was just coming out this way and I hadn’t really articulated it as a strategy. So you’ve explained to me what I was doing, and why. As an escalation but not all out.

    Very weird.

    SPQR (768505)

  49. Dana Loesch’s own reputation depends a little bit on Breitbart.com not being run by bad people.

    I wonder what this means:


    For reasons that may just as easily be attributed to basic ideological conflicts, the working environment for Loesch became increasingly hostile.

    I suppose that means there were editorial disputes, but what exactly?

    In the meantime, she’s being kept off the Internet, although her radio show continues.

    Sammy Finkelman (0c3646)

  50. Great comments from Beldar& others. But what I don’t get is why a 3rd party website would be legally precluded from hiring Dana. I understand Breitbart LLC could come after HER for violating a non-compete clause, but how & why does this affect the party that would hire her, other than reputationally. I’m no labor law expert, but it seems to me this suit is really Dana getting the drop on Breitbart before they file suit against her for breach of contract. Now, I’ve got somewhat of a problem with these non-compete clauses to begin with. A little too akin to indentured servitude if you ask me. But in this case, there’s a mix of legal wrangling and PR going on that should certainly have been avoided.

    smokedaddy (8dc8a0)

  51. Comment by smokedaddy (8dc8a0) — 12/23/2012 @ 11:47 pm

    But what I don’t get is why a 3rd party website would be legally precluded from hiring Dana.

    Maybe tortious interference with contract? It could be there’s no legal validity to that, but even so Breitbart could scare people off, not to mention that maybe she’d be ordered by a court to quit.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  52. Could it be Breitbart.com as was, really really really doesn’t want one of its names to go be a face for Glenn Beck, and reverse hucksterize Breitbart by association somehow?

    Could it be all about the Beckery?

    SarahW (b0e533)

  53. Comment by SarahW (b0e533) — 12/25/2012 @ 8:08 am

    Could it be Breitbart.com as was, really really really doesn’t want one of its names to go be a face for Glenn Beck, and reverse hucksterize Breitbart by association somehow?

    But she’s already a been guest host on the Glenn Beck program!

    http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/08/06/how-did-a-former-liberal-become-a-conservative-activist-dana-loesch-tells-her-story/

    http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/08/06/watch-dana-loeschs-epic-monologue-on-the-war-being-waged-on-the-1st-amendment/

    And she was somewhat connected to him beforeshe went to work for Breitbart.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB584M7EobE

    She was attacked for it already, in March 2011:

    http://danabusted.blogspot.com/2011/03/danabustedcom-exclusive-dana-loesch.html

    What they’re doing is keeping her off the written Internet. But not preventing her from doing audio or video, since her contract with Breitbart did not involve that.

    She still has her show:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7a6kszCSIs (Nov 27)

    Could it be all about the Beckery?

    Probably not.

    Some anonymous sources are telling that to Robert Stacy McCain, but he’s preplexed by that.

    http://theothermccain.com/2012/12/24/memo-from-the-national-affairs-desk-chains-rattling-and-whos-that-ghost/

    You really ought to listen to that entire 13-minute interview. [of Andrew Breitbart on Stephen Bannon's podcast] As a matter of fact, a transcript might come in handy, because (a) people are telling me that it was Glenn Beck who wanted to hire Dana Loesch away from Breitbart.com, (b) the same people depict Stephen Bannon as the villain of the story, and (c) I’m genuinely perplexed by all this.

    Bannon http://thevictorysessions.com/2011/12/12/podcast-glenn-beck-as-race-baiter-with-guest-andrew-breitbart/

    Andrew Breitbart had a problem with Glenn Beck. Stephen Bannon supported Breitbart. Andrew Breitbart’s problem did not extend to wanting to boycott Glenn Beck.

    Most likely, this is not because of an objection to her association with Glenn Beck (where it could only be retaliation) and Glenn Beck probably didn’t want to step up his association with Dana Loesch, and Stephen Bannon is not the cause of her problems with Breitbart the company this year, and what the Other McCain was hearing was disinformation, designed to sort of like satisfy people that they knew what the truth was so they wouldn’t go looking for an explanation.

    Sammy Finkelman (22cc00)

  54. I didn’t get my italics stopped in the first part of what I wrote.

    Here’s the Tommy Christopher story:

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/dana-loesch-sues-breitbart-com-to-nix-contract-claims-indentured-servitude/

    TC says her last date of publication on Breitbart is Sept. 13, and that she hasn’t appeared on CNN “in months.”

    He wants to connect it to the time in August when Dana Loesch advised Todd Akin to cancel his appearance on CNN and appear on her radio show instead, or to the time back in January when Keith Olbermann and Media Matters were calling on CNN to fire her when she declared that she’d also do what 4 Marines did when they urinated on Taliban corpses.

    Sammy Finkelman (592ec6)


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