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by
Bryan Preston

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November 7, 2013 - 8:03 am
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In Wendy Davis vs Star-Telegram Operating, Inc. et al Wendy Davis alleged — as the basis of her case — that a negative newspaper editorial not only infringed on her “right to pursue public office.” Davis alleged — in court as the basis of her case — that the editorial damaged her physical and mental health.

That’s quite a claim.

Wendy Davis alleged in court that a newspaper editorial made her a little bonkers, entitling her to some of its money. The paper’s deep Disney pockets had nothing to do with it.

So what happened? According to the May 25, 1996 editorial, which is also available in full at the site linked above, Davis’ campaign had sent out an election-eve mailer that smeared her opponent and disparaged the Bass family, which the newspaper notes is known for its philanthropic generosity. In her mailer Davis claimed a prominent endorsement but declined to disclose that the endorser was her own father. The Star-Telegram lamented Davis’ dirty win-at-all-costs tactics and therefore endorsed her opponent in the Fort Worth City Council race.

Newspapers make such editorial decisions during every election cycle, always have and always will — unless a case like Davis’ somehow succeeds. Davis was not just attacking the Star-Telegram — her suit threatened the freedom of the press enshrined in the First Amendment.

Davis lost her frivolous lawsuit by unanimous decision and the court wrote that they “cannot conclude a person of ordinary intelligence would perceive the (newspaper’s) statements as inflammatory.” The district court dismissed Davis’ case “with prejudice,” a court’s way of heaping scorn on the Harvard-educated Davis for filing a pointless lawsuit. Davis lost on every single count.

Wendy Davis wasn’t done. Having been tossed out of court, she decided to appeal and her case went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. Four years after she first filed the suit, the Texas Supreme Court also tossed her case out. The Star-Telegram’s attorney at the time, Charles Babcock, said, “It was a remarkable theory that Ms. Davis was advancing – that this newspaper could not comment on the various issues of her campaign, and that it could not express its opinion as to which candidate it preferred. If Ms. Davis’s theories had been correct, there would have been a serious chill on the media to report on campaigns.”

Indeed.

Now, some might argue that Davis filed her suit in the heat of the moment a long time ago, and may not be disposed to such win-at-all-costs tactics now. The facts then and now suggest otherwise. She pursued the case for four long years, though appeals, all the way up to the Texas Supreme Court. That’s not a heat-of-the-moment act, that’s stalking via the courts. Davis pursued ruthless, win-at-all-costs tactics during that 1996 race and again during the 2013 filibuster that made her famous. It was her supporters who clogged up the Texas capitol, chanted obscene chants and engaged in tactics that brought disgrace to the state — and Wendy Davis never said or did a single thing to stop any of it. She could have. But she chose not to. It’s a safe bet that her gubernatorial campaign is already lining up smears against her Democratic primary and general election opponents now.

Far from being an old case buried in the distant past, Wendy Davis’ lawsuit against a newspaper for doing what newspapers do is a telling moment in her life, and reveals the kind of governor she would be.

Wendy Davis’ four-year courtroom war against the Fort Worth Star-Telegram still stands as a legitimate reason to believe that she would be a reckless, thin-skinned and divisive governor who would be very bad for the state of Texas.

*The story actually came out on September 1, 2013, so I was incorrect on its publication date. My apologies for the error.

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Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
Several of her robots were out at a community event I went to a couple of weekends ago. Strangely, not one of them approached me with their clipboard.

Too bad really, I had my response all worked out, "I can not support her because she does not go far enough. Not only should democrats be allowed to abort some of their offspring, they should be compelled to abort all of them."

Maybe next time.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
married to a lawyer explains part of it, i suspect. i surmise that she was able to pursue the case at reduced cost or divert campaign money to legal fees, ie hubby, while taking on the "poor little waif fights the big meany" pose.

i wonder if she will sue me for pondering the question here?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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"there would have been a serious chill on the media to report on campaigns”

Given the way the media reports on politics, a serious chill isn’t enough. Siberian winter would be justice.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The editorial board and management of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in the mid 1990s also thought to employ as one of their main political columnists one Ms. Molly Ivins. So we're not talking about some rabid conservative broadsheet here that reflexively went after Davis due to her political affiliations (though it would be interesting to scratch the surface at the Star-Telegram today and see what they think of Wendy, especially those who have been around long enough to remember the four-year long lawsuit).
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm surprised she doesn't move to Mexifornia...she'd fit right in with the lunatics Boxer, Feinstein and Pelosi.
What's she got against Texas?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Failed marriage out of high school? Sounds like a story, there, too. Bet the divorce records will tell an interesting tale about her personality.

Walked away from a cheap mobile home mortgage? So, she's a deadbeat? More story, there, too.

This is the chance for the paper to really get even with her for the lawsuit. They can do an in-depth bio on her. Dig up all the dirt in her life. I bet there is a whole lot of it. Really get into her sociopathic personality. Expose her to the world. Watch the donors run screaming from her, when they are done. It would just be so juicy, I'm sure.

And I would have another heaping serving of SchadenFreude. Tasty!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
And it isn't going to happen. She's The Anointed One for Texas.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd love to have your optimism...jugears got re-elected after lying about the murders of 4 Americans, so the potential of progressives rejecting anyone that's crazy, seems to be very slim.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Brach will scream sexism every time she's criticized. Here, Wendy, it could go something like this:

Get on one of those Real Housewives shows and make catty comparisons between your implants and Camille Grammer's. Insist on taking your Yorkiepoo into a high-end steak house. Donate your famous pink running shoes for some charitable auction and watch them go for fifty cents. You are a hick, a hack, a throwback, a mean girl. Texas Democrats are pathetically behind the times. My 20-year-old niece will embarrass you someday. Quit crying, you pathetic baby.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Several of her robots were out at a community event I went to a couple of weekends ago. Strangely, not one of them approached me with their clipboard.

Too bad really, I had my response all worked out, "I can not support her because she does not go far enough. Not only should democrats be allowed to abort some of their offspring, they should be compelled to abort all of them."

Maybe next time.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have you really listened to her speak whats on her mind? I believe she is damaged psychologically, but I doubt it was the Star-Telegram's doing.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
I assume they cover the "chilling effect" concept at Harvard law. Was she out sick that day? Or, when they teach it at Harvard do they imply that, if artfull employed for the appropriate Progressive cause, that the "chilling effect" on free speech is a good thing?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another thin-skinned democrat.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like there's another kind?
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
A totalitarian [can't decide if stalinist and/or fascist] acting like a totalitarian. D'uh.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
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