The year is just over a week old, and we already have our first Red Forman Dumbass Award winner! And I was afraid 2015 would be boring.
Kirby Delauter, a Republican councilman in Maryland’s Frederick County, a short drive west of Baltimore, has threatened legal action against the Frederick News-Post. His complaint? The paper and its reporter Bethany Rodgers used his name without his permission in a story regarding parking for county officials. This dumbass apparently doesn’t know about a free press.
For those of you who haven’t watched the late and lamented “That ’70s Show,” Red Forman was a curmudgeonly father, a hard-working Korean War vet who just didn’t understand why his son and his friends behaved foolishly. He had a term for them: dumbasses.
Previous winners of the Red Forman Dumbass Award are: Paul Ryan, George Zimmerman, Donald Rumsfeld, Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, Cliven Bundy, Karl Rove, Mayor Jim Ardis of Peoria, Ill., Maine’s Gov. Paul LePage and Congressman Duncan Hunter. The Kaufmans were the people who wanted to sail around with world with a toddler and a baby and had to be rescued by the U.S. Navy, and Bundy is the cattle rancher in Nevada who had a showdown with the Feds over unpaid grazing fees.
Here is the single sentence in a very long article that mentions our Dumbass Winner: “Councilman Kirby Delauter, who is also a former commissioner, has joined Shreve [another councilman] in concern over parking for elected officials.” That’s it. That’s what has him annoyed.
Well, actually, it isn’t. It seems that Rodgers wrote a piece about Delauter before last year’s election that he didn’t like. He told her never to contact him again as a result. However, when you write a story about local government, you are ethically bound as a journalist to try to get comments from elected officials. He never returned her call. A nasty Facebook exchange since deleted but captured by The Washington Post and preserved here in an NPR piece lays it all out.
He ends it with, “Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an Attorney. Your rights stop where mine start.”
What he apparently doesn’t get is that her rights include the right to print his name in her news story. It’s a radical idea, this free-press thingy, but there you are. The good people over at the News-Post tore into Delauter with a delightful mixture of mockery and despair.
My two cents for what they are worth: If this jackass is the elected official of the Fifth District in Frederick County, I think we better see what has happened to the local water supply to make people vote so stupidly.
Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter — each use unauthorized. I look forward to being served, Mr. Councilman. What a dumbass!
Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.