Petition: Claire O’Brien

(Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

(Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

-Frederick Douglass

I met Claire O’Brien through her blog, Eléctrica in the Desert, and have had the privilege of corresponding with her and learning of the targeted attacks she experienced due to her refusal to reveal a confidential source during a racially and politically divisive murder trial in Dodge City, Kansas. I shared her story in a recent post, That’s how it goes. The following article by Les Anderson summarizes in greater detail what transpired in Dodge City: Without reporter’s shield laws, who would be willing to speak up?, but is still a partial chronology which omits the vital issue of Lucy Dalglish, former director of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press, lying to and about Claire.

Many readers of this blog are familiar with the neoliberal assault on the public spaces of education and journalism. The suppression of a reporter’s First Amendment rights to free speech is predicated on the ability to protect confidential sources. Without this assurance, journalists would be at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to gathering accurate, independent information and reporting it to the public. Fewer concerned citizens would be willing to come forward with critical information needed to face down oppressive corporations, institutions and individuals acting in opposition to the public’s interests. In journalism, as in most professions, one’s reputation is everything. Along with her livelihood, this is what the career politicos took from Claire…her name. If I could beg you to act on Claire’s behalf I would, so consider me on my knees. Claire is a sister, our sister, in the struggle.

__________________

You can send the following petition into an email to Tony Mauro (TMauro@alm.com), then-president of the RCFP Steering Committee, who was present when Lucy Dalglish admitted to Claire that she lied about Claire to the Associated Press. Please share this petition as widely as you possibly can, using every social media outlet at your disposal. Claire has been blackballed from working for four years now and is dependent on public assistance for survival:

TO: Mr. Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme court reporter, American Law Review

Your silence regarding the prolonged attack on reporter Claire O’Brien following her role in the Dodge city murder trial of Samuel Bonilla is a damaging weapon, a contemptible insult, an abuse of power and a daily choice.  As the president of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press’ steering committee, you were entrusted with the simple and vital task of defending reporters from being forced to act as an arm of law enforcement.  In other words, you were responsible for defending the First Amendment right of a free press to protect the identity of confidential sources – not testify about them to the state. You weren’t authorized to assist the RCFP’s powerful director in lying to truthful reporters who face criminal charges, incarceration, and steep fines. The bylaws you were bound to uphold did not allow the RCFP to discriminate against such reporters based on personal opinions, likes and dislikes, professional status, rumor, social bias, gossip, disability issues, the influence of corporate counsel, or input gleaned from a reporter’s enemies. Anyone can be destroyed by influential media interests and attorneys, a fact of which you are very keenly aware.
You were present via an April 21, 2010 conference call in which Dalglish admitted having lied to Claire O’Brien, telling her that Claire’s report of GateHouse Media’s threats were unfounded – after GateHouse itself had confirmed them to Dalglish! You knew that Dalglish defamed Claire to the Associated Press with damaging fabrications two days later, thereby destroying her credibility and reputation, while backing the lies of a ruthless corporation. Further, you refused to admit that Claire had any right to know the reason for Dalglish’s outrageous attack on her, nor to issue a press release restoring her professional name. What you eventually agreed to issue, four months after Daglish’s lies went out on the AP’s national wire and three months after O’Brien had been fired and blacklisted with no notice or severance pay, was a weak, self-serving piece of PR that made no mention of the fact that Dalglish had lied to O’Brien, lied about her, lied to the public, and censored an important news story.
Since then, Dalglish has used her influence to defame Claire O’Brien on a national level. Every opportunity to publicize the truth, every potential supporter, every First Amendment nonprofit’s legal staff, and every job offer have been corrupted by a narrative constructed by Dalglish and disseminated via the networks of influence available to her.
You have treated Claire’s  humanity and work like a toxic waste dump, destroying her life in the service of power and caused her needless trauma and suffering. You have betrayed  the most important standards of your profession, thumbed your nose at democracy, and revealed a disrespect for the American people that calls into question your ethical qualifications re. your own job of reporting the truth to the public. If you continue to ignore the pleas for justice that have been sent to you for several years, this issue will reach the American people. If you will not answer to Claire, nor to us, you will be answering to them.
We urge you to – finally – do the right thing. Don’t allow this to become your legacy, Mr. Mauro. Step forward to reclaim the decency and courage of journalism’s traditions. You will discover that the truth will protect you,  and that your action will  free others to follow.

*Please copy your email to the following people, each of whom played a role in her ongoing persecution and can help to put pressure for others to act on Claire’s behalf:

Laura Anderson Wright <landerso@umd.edu> Peter Weiler <pweiler@umd.edu> Charlie Savage <charlie.savage@gmail.com>
Charles Ogletree <ogletree@law.harvard.edu> David Cuillier <cuillier@email.arizona.edu>
Claire O’Brien <claireobrien23@gmail.com>
______________________

Thank you for your support and solidarity with Claire in the suffering she has endured to preserve her integrity as a journalist and on behalf of the profession itself. Every voice is needed in the struggle. Feel free to add anybody and everybody that you think might be interested in taking up Claire’s cause. Any questions regarding this petition or for more information on Claire’s case should contact Claire directly at: claireobrien23@gmail.com

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38 Responses to Petition: Claire O’Brien

  1. smilecalm says:

    bowing to those
    accepting the risk
    of saying what needs to be said.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Jeff Nguyen says:

    Thank you for sharing, krikli01.

    Like

  3. carolahand says:

    Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention, Jeff. I just sent the petition via email (and added you to the list of cc’s). I also shared your post on Facebook.

    Claire, please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help. We all owe you a deep debt of gratitude for your integrity and advocacy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Nguyen says:

      Thank you so much, Carol! I’m sure Claire will contact you directly with her appreciation.

      For future petitioners…no need to copy me on the email petition but please include Claire in your cc’s.

      Like

    • Thank-you so much, Carol. If you can help persuade others to send the petition as well, and tweet about it too, I will be extremely grateful. Frankly, there needs to be a critical mass sent all at once. And I’m no longer too proud to hide the fact that if it just ends up with a bunch of Likes here at Jeff’s blog, with no action taken once again – my heart will be broken.

      Like

      • carolahand says:

        Claire, I can reblog Jeff’s post here and forward a copy of the email I sent if you send your address to me: carolahand@gmail.com. I did post Jeff’s story on Facebook, urging people to take action.

        In the meantime, I send my best wishes to you and will think about other ways I might be able to help.

        Liked by 1 person

      • brucethomasw says:

        What good are words without action? And the world needs no more heart break.
        I don’t use any other social media, so I added my voice via email.

        I think it was Peter Seeger who said millions of small things willl be what solves the problems of the world. . . though I understand this is not a small thing for you.

        Thank you Claire, for standing up for justice and peace in world. And thank you Jeff your voice as well.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Jeff Nguyen says:

        Thank you for your support, Bruce.

        Like

  4. Thanks again, Carol. I sent you an email of thanks, and am deeply grateful for any support you are able to offer.
    Peace and justice, Hermana,
    Claire

    Like

    • Bruce, thank-you. Tears came to my eyes when you mentioned Peter Seeger.
      I thought of him belting out “If I had a Hammer” in 1949 to benefit godless communists being tried by the US government. Not, of course, that I would EVER begin to compare myself to anyone involved in a struggle at that level.

      Still, I have a hammer, as do we all.

      It’s the hammer of Justice,
      It’s the bell of Freedom,
      It’s the song about love between my brothers and my sisters,
      All over this land.

      Like

  5. carolahand says:

    Reblogged this on Voices from the Margins and commented:
    An important opportunity to support an advocate who is paying the price for speaking truth to power and honoring her promises to protect others.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. bginbama says:

    Claire – thank you for bring this to our attention. Much support is needed for the brave ones who dare to speak truth to power and pay the price. I have emailed the petition to Mauro and cc’d the others as well. Best wished, bg

    Liked by 1 person

  7. weavergrace says:

    Reblogged this on Weaver Grace and commented:
    When I first heard about Claire’s story, I thought it was an issue of concealing a witness to protect him or her from being heard in court. I thought that a reporter was claiming to have disputable information, and stated that it came from a credible, though anonymous, source. I thought a reporter was expecting to have the opportunity to testify on behalf of an anonymous person. I thought that the reporter was justly fired from her job, but since her employer refused to reveal the reason, she imposed a wild story about it.

    I discovered that this was like the game of “telephone” in which a simple message is orally passed along a line of people, as accurately as possible, and the last version is found to be quite different from the original one.

    I discovered that award-winning investigative reporter Claire O’Brien gave a voice to Latinos who often had no other voice, by publishing their stories in a newspaper. She obtained information about a murder from people who trusted her. A subpoena demanded her notes. The judge threatened to hold her in contempt of court if she did not reveal a certain source who revealed embarrassing and incriminating information about the popular person who was killed. She refused to reveal her notes and source. She won an award for the murder news story…after she was fired by the newspaper that had employed her while she wrote it. Quickly, organizations that claimed to support free speech and professional journalism joined a campaign to discredit Ms. O’Brien.

    She is now destitute, dependent on public aid. Lawyers and reporters who are aware of the facts have been unable to share her story because of likely repercussions. Public pressure is her hope for justice, since she trusts that Tom Mauro, a key player in this dispute, will set the record straight, when pressed.

    Please:
    1. read her story
    2. participate in her petition to Tony Mauro
    3. share her story with others

    Thank you for sharing Claire’s hopes and dreads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Nguyen says:

      Thank you for your words of support and call to action, Grace.

      Like

    • weavergrace says:

      Jeff and Claire, thank you for all the material you gave us so we can participate in this quest for justice. I revised the petition before I sent it. I hope you don’t mind if I share my revision. (Jeff, I see that you know how to delete comments that you don’t want)

      Subject: Claire O’Brien

      Dear Tony Mauro:

      I urge you to break your silence regarding the attack on reporter Claire O’Brien, following her role in the Dodge city murder trial against Sam Bonilla. As former president of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press’ Steering Committee, and current U.S. Supreme court reporter for the American Law Review, you must uphold the standards of your profession and democracy, and the ethical requirements of your own job of reporting truth to the public.

      I understand that you were present at an April 21, 2010 conference call in which Lucy Dalglish (former director of the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press) admitted having lied to Claire O’Brien, saying that Claire’s report of GateHouse Media’s threats were unfounded – after GateHouse itself had confirmed them to Dalglish. You knew that Dalglish defamed Claire to the Associated Press with damaging fabrications two days later, thereby destroying her credibility and reputation, while backing the lies of a ruthless corporation. Further, you refused to admit that Claire had any right to issue a press release restoring her professional name. What you eventually agreed to issue — four months after Dalglish’s lies went out on the AP’s national wire and three months after O’Brien had been fired and blacklisted with no notice or severance pay — was a piece of PR that made no mention of the fact that Dalglish had lied to O’Brien, lied about her, lied to the public, or censored an important news story.

      Since then, Dalglish has used her influence to defame Claire O’Brien on a national level. Every opportunity to publicize the truth, every potential supporter, every First Amendment nonprofit’s legal staff, and every job offer has been corrupted by a narrative constructed by Dalglish and disseminated by the networks of influence available to her.

      Claire is trusting you to set the record straight and revive her career.

      Thank you for setting the record straight,
      [full name, address]

      Liked by 1 person

  8. THANK-YOU, Grace.
    Thank-you, thank-you.

    Like

  9. I sent an email to each of those listed. Thank you, Claire, for your courage!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dr. Rex says:

    On another note … thank you for stopping by “my spot” …. and the follow. I hope you enjoy my postings!!

    Like

  11. Reblogged this on Eléctrica in the Desert and commented:
    Reblogged on Electrica in the Desert

    Like

  12. Pingback: Claire O’Brien keeps fighing the good fight against GateHouse Media … and those in the mainstream press who tried to destroy her | Peoria Pundit

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