A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Fraud

Tour de Fraud

Lance Armstrong

By Mike Brancheau

In recent months, the world has watched as an international hero and celebrated champion confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs in all seven of his Tour de France victories.

Lance Armstrong’s rise to global fame began after a well-documented battle with testicular cancer in 1996 and 1997. His story captivated the world, and his consecutive Tour de France victories from 1999–2005 made him one of the most remarkable figures of perseverance and success in sports history.

His victory over cancer led to the creation of the Livestrong Foundation in 1997. The Livestrong Foundation benefited greatly from Mr. Armstrong’s widespread popularity and has since raised over half a billion dollars for cancer patients and their families.

While Mr. Armstrong garnered unbridled support from millions of people around the world, he was dogged by many who doubted his extraordinary success. In 2004, David Walsh, the chief sports writer for U.K. Newspaper The Sunday Times, and Pierre Ballester published “L.A. Confidentiel,” a book containing numerous allegations about Mr. Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs.

In June 2004, the Times published an article that referenced the book and its doping allegations. In response, Mr. Armstrong sued the newspaper for libel in the United Kingdom. The parties reached a settlement in 2006. As part of the settlement, the Times released a public statement: “The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr. Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance enhancing drugs and sincerely apologized for any such impression.”

On December 23, 2012, Velo News reported that the Times is suing Mr. Armstrong to recover the money paid in the 2006 settlement, plus interest and legal fees. The article explains that after Mr. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in October 2012, the Times decided to pursue the lawsuit against Mr. Armstrong to recover the money that it had paid for, it turns out, stating the truth.

LASIS will explore further…

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New Politics: Fake Twitter Accounts

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By Lauren Luptak

As politics in the upcoming presidential election heats up, politicians are creating new and inventive ways of campaigning – they are taking politics to the Internet. Innovation doesn’t come without pitfalls, however. Eric Fehrnstrom, a strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and Scott Brown’s 2012 Senate campaign in Massachusetts, was recently discovered to be the author of a nasty Twitter account, @CrazyKhazei, that poked fun at reporters covering Massachusetts politics and mocked a Democratic candidate in the Massachusetts Senate race, Alan Khazei.

The story broke in late August, posted first by the Blue Mass Group and then picked up by the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. Senator Brown immediately claimed that he was unaware of Mr. Fehrnstrom’s tweeting and ordered the Twitter account to be shut down (which it has been), but the damage was already done.

Mr. Fehrnstrom’s identity was uncovered when he accidentally tweeted an @CrazyKhazei tweet from his personal Twitter account, @EricFehrn. Many of the @CrazyKhazei tweets were distasteful and inappropriate. Although reporters came down hard on him, and one blogger even accused Mr. Fehrnstrom of cyberbullying, he seemed unapologetic and unruffled and in an email, sent August 24, 2011, to the Boston Globe wrote, “Sometimes we take our politics too seriously and this was my way of lightening things up,” followed by a blasé “if you can’t stand the tweet, get out of the kitchen.”

Although there has been expansive media coverage, no one has yet addressed the important legal question arising from this situation. What—if any—are the legal consequences for pretending to be someone else on Twitter?   (more…)

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Who’s Your Daddy: LeBron Faces Heat From…His Father?

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By Jeremy Potter

You probably saw “LeBron” in the headines and thought “This is just what the Internet needs, another story about LeBron James.”  It’s understandable.  After all, we’ve all had enough of The Decision LeBron made “to take [his] talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat.

But there was another story about LeBron last week, which, while not headline news, piqued our interest.  Seems a Washington D.C. attorney has filed a lawsuit against LeBron and his mother, Gloria, in which he claims that he is LeBron’s father, and that LeBron and Gloria tampered with his 2007 paternity test that came back negative.  He is seeking $4 million in damages.

This story drew attention from the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal, the Daily News, and CNN.com.  But none of these outlets took the time to examine the lawsuit, preferring instead to run with the headline and let the details work themselves out later.  In fact, it was the celeb site TMZ and not a traditional news site that actually located the court documents, though it stopped short of analyzing the law.

We weren’t satisfied with that.  We wanted to know- how much heat this lawsuit packs.   So we read Leicester B. Stovell’s allegations of paternity.   Very carefully. (more…)

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