Sunday, April 20, 2014

Washington Post Reporter Caught with Hand in ACLU Cookie Jar


Washington Post scribe Barton Gellman, a conduit for the classified material that Edward Snowden pilfered from the National Security Agency, abruptly declined an award he had agreed to receive from the American Civil Liberties Union after this reporter inquired about the obvious impropriety of being honored by an organization he covers.

Of course, only a journalist who fancies himself a political player and not an independent observer would have ever agreed to accept an award from an advocacy organization in the first place.

Gellman was to receive the award, along with Glenn Greenwald and film maker Laura Poitras, at the April 23 “Bill of Rights” fundraising dinner of the ACLU’s Washington regional office.

It was Poitras who introduced Snowden to Gellman. 

Greenwald was slated to accept the award via videotape on behalf of his two fellow Edward Snowden handlers. 

The ACLU, which Gellman often quotes uncritically, is enamored of Gellman because he used information provided by Snowden to expose for the Washington Post some of the National Security Agency’s hitherto secret electronic surveillance programs.

The Washington Post just won a Pulitzer Prize for its stories on the NSA by Gellman and other reporters.

The ACLU and some conservatives say the programs are illegal and a fundamental threat to American freedoms.

In an April 4 email blast to supporters the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital said Gellman along with Glenn Greenwald and film maker Laura Poitras, co-author of Gellman’s story that divulged the NSA’s internet data mining program would get an award named for the late Henry Edgerton, a liberal federal appeals court judge. 

In one of his best known decisions Edgerton joined a Washington, DC appellate court ruling that upheld the decision by a district court judge to dismiss the perjury conviction of China “scholar” Owen Lattimore,  a notorious Communist propagandist.

The program for our dinner includes videotaped remarks from Rio de Janeiro by courageous journalist Glenn Greenwald, who will be accepting our Henry W. Edgerton Civil Liberties Award on behalf of Barton Gellman, Laura Poitras and himself,”  the ACLU announced triumphantly.

Former New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane said that it would be foolhardy for a journalist to accept an award from an advocacy group he covers. “If the award is coming from an organization you are covering it’s a mistake to accept it. You’re not demonstrating sufficient independence.”

Like a polished diplomat Brisbane emphasized that he was talking about the issue in general and did not know the specifics of the Gellman matter. Was his reticence due to the fact that Brisbane had worked at the Washington Post with Gellman?

Left-leaning NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen also closed ranks behind Gellman. Rosen, who worked briefly as a journalist in 1978  but has spent the ensuing decades explaining to reporters how they can be as morally upright as him, declined comment.

Before abruptly hanging up, however,  Rosen explained that he would not talk to me because I write for conservative publications.

Three cheers for guilt by association.

But Dick Wald, who was in charge of broadcast standards for ABC News, told this reporter that he saw nothing wrong with journalists getting awards from advocacy organizations. "All organizations are advocacy organizations," he said. 

Asked if that included the Pulitzer Prize Committee he said emphatically, "Yes."  
As for Gellman, when contacted for this article he steadfastly denied any sort of ethical problem.

Curiously, just hours after the ACLU had announced it was giving him an award Gellman insisted he was not really getting an award from the ACLU.

“I don't go around accepting or rejecting awards,” Gellman contended. “I'm not in the business of denouncing people.”

Gellman claimed that “nothing says I'm accepting the award.”

Reminded that the ACLU email, which Gellman said he had read, declared that Greenwald would accept the award for him and Poitras the investigative journalist insisted that was a “mistake.”

Pressed further Gellman ended the phone call.

“I think we’re done,” he said. “Goodbye.”

Gellman then emailed a few minutes later to say he just told the ACLU to correct its supposed error about Greenwald accepting the award for him.  

The Washington Post veteran, who wrote an entire book complaining that Dick Cheney is overly secretive, refused to answer follow-up questions.

But Art Spitzer,  legal director of the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, told this reporter that Gellman knew full well he was getting the award. Gellman “initially agreed to be one of the recipients of our award, and we included his name on the invitations” to its shindig at the National Press Club,” Spitzer explained.  

The day after Gellman bagged on them the ACLU sheepishly announced that although they “wanted to give the Henry W. Edgerton Civil Liberties Award to courageous journalist Bart Gellman, he stated that he wants to maintain his professional distance from organizations he covers. He respectfully declines to accept the award.”

Spitzer said for this article that Gellman “had second thoughts about accepting an award from an organization that's an advocate on many of the issues he covers. We respect his decision.”

Should these “second thoughts” have been first thoughts?

Asked about the matter Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron tried to pretend that Gellman never agreed to receive the award. 

Baron said that “Bart didn’t seek the award and is not accepting it.” 

Uh, actually, “Bart” was prepared to accept it until I raised the issue.

Saying Gellman “didn’t seek the award” is a distinction without a difference. 

Baron sounded like someone caught with his hand in the cookie jar who sheepishly says, “I didn’t seek these cookies and am not taking them.” 

Baron did not respond to a follow-up email asking if he thought the determination of the ACLU to give Gellman an award showed his coverage was wildly skewed in their favor.

Evan Gahr, a former press critic for the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel, has also written about the media for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Weekly Standard and the American Spectator. Twitter:@EvanGahr
Update: ACLU emails response to story.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sexual Harassment Cover-Up


The affair ended. The abuse began. The cover-up for years and years ensued.

New York State Psychiatric Institute officials continually ignored a clinic worker’s complaints about sexual harassment by a co-worker because she once slept with him, her federal lawsuit claims.

The man also allegedly made sexually laden anti-Semitic remarks to another employee of the Audobon Clinic, an in-patient facility run by the New York State Psychiatric Institute, a division of Columbia University.

Erica Dratte has worked at the Audobon Clinic as a “Mental Hygiene Therapy Aid” since around 1996, her lawsuit says. In 1997, she “began a romantic relationship” with a co-worker, Kwame El. He got her pregnant and she had an abortion.

Around 1998, Dratte broke off the relationship with El. That is when the years of verbal abuse allegedly started. “Immediately thereafter, Kwame El began to sexually harass Plaintiff.”

He told her, “You have a pretty little pussy” and “Remember that time we were in the bathroom and I had you against the shower.”

Dratte complained to her supervisors in 1999 but they poo-poohed her concerns again and again. Dr. Stephanie Lemelle “simply told plaintiff that she (Plaintiff) had been in a relationship with Kwame El and ‘should know how he is.’”

In 2001, after El exposed his penis to Dratte she complained to a different supervisor, Dr Pelligrino Sarti. El was transferred to another clinic but in 2003 he was transferred back to the Audobon Clinic, where Dratte worked.

After another employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against him in 2005 El was again transferred to a different clinic.

But in 2007, he was back at the Audobon Clinic and unleashing more abuse on Dratte--commenting on her physical appearance and complaining “You should have never have killed my baby.”

The lawsuit claims that El “would also make sexually harassing remarks about other female employees.”

In 2012, he allegedly told another coworker, Laura Panitz that “she needs to be fucked” and “because she is Jewish she wears long skirts to cover up that she is a freak.”

Dratte and Panitz complained to New York State Psychiatric Institute clinical director David Lowenthal but got nowhere, the lawsuit says. Lowenthal did nothing to “remedy the harassment and/or prevent future harassment.”

El made more crude remarks to Dratte. He told her, “All women want me because I am a big black man” and “all white women want a black man.”

Dratte complained to another New York State Psychiatric Institute official, affirmative action office Petrocinia Ibanez-Murillo. She said El should have been “fired a long time ago” but Dratte should just be thankful she “’wasn’t harmed from this situation.’”

Dratte sued the New York State Psychiatric Institute in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York last month for illegal discrimination based on gender.

The lawsuit asks for “compensatory damages for mental, emotional and physical injury, distress pain and suffering and injury to reputation.”

New York State Psychiatric Institute director David Lowenthal did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did New York State Psychiatric Institute director Jeffrey Lieberman

Evan Gahr, a former press critic for the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel, has written for almost every major conservative publication. His reporting has been picked up by the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, New York Times and Page Six. He recently broke the story of sexual harassment at the Family Research Council.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Former FishbowlDC editor gets action.


In the wake of embarrassing publicity the Washington Post moved to settle the race and age discrimination against the paper it initially planned to fight.

And it looks like Washington Post scion Don Graham personally made this call.

Settlement talks between the Post and longtime black ad department employee David DeJesus--who was fired by his white boss, Noelle Wainwright, just days after she shrieked at him out of the blue--are scheduled for November 21 at Washington, DC Federal District Court.

But the case was moving full speed ahead until the initial flurry of stories.

In early September, Mayer Morganroth, the lawyer for DeJesus, said discovery for the lawsuit would start in a few weeks.

Jackie Holmes, the outside Washington Post lawyer, and Morganroth filed a formal discovery schedule for the case with the court on September 11.

(Both lawyers indicated that they might want the judge to seal “proprietary business information” that could be obtained in discovery. That’s right: the Washington Post was prepared to take legal action to keep information from the public!)

On the evening of September 11 this reporter broke the story of the lawsuit in a freelance opinion piece for the Daily Caller.

On September 13, FishbowlDC published its first article about the lawsuit.

FishbowlDC then published a longer piece on September 19 about my efforts to get journalists at the Washington Post and Politico to cover the lawsuit.

Anyway, eight days after the second FishbowlDC story, both sides held a status conference with Washington Federal District Court Judge John Bates.

Cherie Morganroth, another lawyer for DeJesus, spoke first and indicated her willingness to go forward with discovery, saying that prospects for any kind of settlement were poor.

But Washington Post lawyer Jackie Holmes made very clear that her client—it’s hard to conclude that she was referring to anyone else but Donald Graham—was determined to settle

According to the official transcript of the September 27 status conference Holmes told Bates that, “We are very far apart. I have talked at length, though, with my client about this, and my client’s view—and he knows himself and has some familiarity with the plaintiff because the plaintiff has been a longtime employee and is now back as an employee and his view is that there is a chance it could be successful if we did it [settlement negotiations] soon.”

Bates referred the case to Federal Magistrate Judge Alan Kay for mediation. He scheduled talks for 10:00 AM on November 21.

They have 60 days after the meeting to settle case. But Kay is very adept at negotiating deals. So this could be concluded relatively soon—if the Washington Post is prepared to pay out big bucks.
Mayer Morganroth, the lawyer for DeJesus, tells that he wants a six figure settlement from the Washington Post.

David DeJesus was re-instated at the Post earlier this year, as ordered by a Newspaper Guild arbitrator. But Morganroth says DeJesus deserves substantial remuneration for “pain and suffering” and the irreparable to his reputation.

DeJesus is now “tainted all over the industry” as “insubordinate” because of his dismissal and unlikely to find employment anywhere else, Morganroth asserts.
Evan Gahr is a former press critic for the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel. Former Washington Post and New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove dubbed Gahr "a Washington gadfly" in one of his many items on Gahr's scoops. 

Twitter: @EvanGahr 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Duh for Politico: Dylan Byers' Blog Spells Editor Wrong

Maybe instead of sending out so many "We are wonderful" memos John Harris should hire a proofreader? And instead of re-writing press releases today maybe Politico should have followed up on story that feds seized a Washington journalist's files? Why did they ignore that? Because the Daily Caller broke the story?

Evan Gahr is a former press critic for the late Eric Breindel.  Lloyd Grove dubbed Gahr a "Washington gadfly" in one of his many items on Gahr's reporting.  AEI purged him and the conservative Hudson Institute fired him for denouncing Christian anti-Semitism.

Twitter: @EvanGahr

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Keith Olbermann Tweets Whopper About Washington Gadfly Evan Gahr and Page Six

Evan Gahr,
Keith Olbermann replied to your Tweet!
  Evan Gahr

Evan Gahr @EvanGahr

@KeithOlbermann I went to ur apt. in '08 to ask about taxes u owed NYState. Did u ever pay your bill? 
Keith Olbermann @KeithOlbermann

@EvanGahr The Post actually apologized for your unconscionable behavior.


Richard Johnson told me he didn't apologize u r a bigger liar than ur Stalinist sweetie L. Hellman but not nearly as adept

You were more cowardly than the cowardly lion to run away from me


Last Updated: 4:07 AM, June 2, 2008
Posted: 4:07 AM, June 2, 2008

PROFESSIONAL angry person Keith Olbermann favors tax-and-spend liberals, but he didn't pay his own taxes. reports that New York state has issued a tax warrant or judgment against the MSNBC host for $2,269.50 in back taxes owed by his personal corporation, Olbermann Broadcasting Empire Inc. Asked about the delinquency the other night by journalist Evan Gahr, the otherwise loquacious Olbermann uttered nary a word as he scurried into Trump Palace, where he bought condo apartment 40B last year, according to public records. "This was a bookkeeping disagreement between Keith's accountants and the state which was resolved months ago," an MSNBC spokesman told Page Six. Gahr was surprised to see Olbermann on foot. "Is the belt-tightening so severe at NBC that the peacock network can't afford a car to take Olbermann home?" he wondered. "If so, there's a bright side for Olbermann: Nobody can call him a limousine liberal.



Professional Angryperson Keith Olbermann is, despite some minor faults like misogyny and the inability to hold down a job, a very careful writer.

But on Twitter recently Olbermann made a rather fanciful claim about Page Six, the New York Post and Washington Gadfly Evan Gahr.  

He claimed the Post apologized over a Page Six item that profoundly embarrassed him in 2008.  

There is nothing on Google about an apology. And former Page Six Editor Richard Johnson told this non-blog blog that he certainly did not apologize to Olbermann.

In June 2008, Page Six did an item based largely on this blog's account of Gahr confronting Olbermann outside his Upper East Side apartment building to ask about a New York state tax warrant against his personal company.

Olbermann--who once did an entire segment on how he would vanquish any Bill O'Reilly producer who confronted him--instead ran away from Gahr.

Olbermann later complained on the air that the Post "sent" someone to his house.

I wrote him a letter that began, "Not all paranoids have enemies. Nobody at the Post sent me anywhere. It was all my idea."

True enough. I knew that it would be impossible to get Olbermann on the phone at MSNBC. So I decided to go straight to the source.

Still, the whole incident continues to be unsettling to Olbermann.  Asked on Twitter recently whether he still owed the taxes, Olbermann claimed that the Post had apologized for my "unconscionable behavior."

To use an expression of the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel, for whom I was an editorial writer and press critic, Olbermann has a decidedly problematic relationship with the truth. 

If the Post had apologized it would have been all over Google. 

Besides, why would anyone apologize to Olbermann? Journalists routinely confront public figures outside their homes.

Olbermann did not respond to follow-up tweets about his curious claim.

But, hey, maybe he's just real busy getting himself fired from his latest job.

Olbermann actually paid his back taxes about two months after the Page Six item.

But why didn't he just saying that instead of tweeting something demonstrably false about
the New York Post?

Warrant ID# : E-028328640-W001-9
Name of Taxpayer as appears on warrant Address of Taxpayer as appears on warrant
LOS ANGELES, CA 90071-1523
Date Warrant docketed by county clerk County where Warrant is docketed Tax Liability amount as appears on Warrant Date notice of tax warrant, amendment, vacation or satisfaction was filed by the Department of Taxation and Finance with the Department of State. Date Warrant satisfaction docketed by county clerk Date Warrant Vacate Notice docketed by county clerk Date Warrant amendment docketed by county clerk Date Warrant expired
August 21, 2007ALBANY$2,269.50August 21, 2007  

Name of Taxpayer as appears on warrant Address of Taxpayer as appears on warrant
LOS ANGELES, CA 90071-1523
Date Warrant docketed by county clerk County where Warrant is docketed Tax Liability amount as appears on Warrant Date notice of tax warrant, amendment, vacation or satisfaction was filed by the Department of Taxation and Finance with the Department of State. Date Warrant satisfaction docketed by county clerk Date Warrant Vacate Notice docketed by county clerk Date Warrant amendment docketed by county clerk Date Warrant expired
August 21, 2007ALBANY$2,269.50August 15, 2008  August 14, 2008 

Evan Gahr, a former press critic and editorial writer for the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel has written for almost every major conservative publication,  plus the Washington Post, Washington Jewish Week and Philadelphia Inquirer.