FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A feud between a Frederick County councilman and the county’s local paper goes viral when the councilman threatens to sue the paper for using his name.
Pat Warren reports what seems small on the surface is generating a worldwide response.
One of the most tweeted topics in the U.S. Tuesday was a Frederick News-Post editorial titled “Kirby Delauter Kirby Delauter Kirby Delauter.”
The paper spared no space Tuesday, posting a biting editorial about the county councilman’s threat to sue the paper for unauthorized use of, you guessed it, his name–Kirby Delauter.
“We’ve never had anything like this go quite as viral as this has done,” Cliff Cumber, Frederick News-Post.
The feud started with a scathing Facebook post from Delauter, criticizing a reporter for “unauthorized use of my name” in a story he called a “hit piece.”
After the reporter responded, Delauter replied: “Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an attorney.”
That did not sit well with Editorial Page Editor Cliff Cumber, who posted the Kirby Delauter editorial online.
“There’s the intersection of not only defending ourselves and also clearly one of our reporters, but there was a constitutional issue here, freedom of the press,” said Cumber.
County Councilman Bill Shreve defended Delauter.
“That’s the biggest quote used in the entire Washington area. If you don’t like something, you say I’ll sue you. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment. It meant nothing,” said Shreve.
In a statement, Delauter says:
“The first amendment is alive and well in Frederick County. As a public figure working to maintain and improve the county, it can be very frustrating to feel misrepresented or misinterpreted by a local media outlet.
“Over my career I have fired off my fair share of angry e-mails, which in hindsight I wish I hadn’t. I can’t think of one that had a positive effect. Usually, they only served to escalate the conflict. I thought I had long ago learned the lesson of waiting 24 hours before I hit the send key, but apparently I didn’t learn that lesson as well as I should have.
“Of course, as I am an elected official, the Frederick News-Post has the right to use my name in any article related to the running of the county — that comes with the job. So yes, my statement to the Frederick News-Post regarding the use of my name was wrong and inappropriate. I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.
“I got elected to serve all the citizens of northern Frederick County, Democrats as well as Republicans. I look forward to the local papers covering my effort in that regard.”
Delauter conceded that the paper has the right to use his name in any article related to running the county.
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