Publicist sues FishbowlDC for libel

LegalTimes | Washington City Paper

Washington, D.C., publicist Wendy Gordon has filed a lawsuit over a series of unflattering photos that the media-gossip site FishbowlDC ran of her, Zoe Tillman reports.

FishbowlDC would post a picture of Gordon, often pulled from Gordon’s Facebook page, and “provide a false and humiliating description,” Gordon alleged.

The posts – the complaint includes a few examples – would often insinuate that Gordon was sexually promiscuous and actively seeking public attention. Those descriptions were false, Gordon said.

Gordon’s complaint says she isn’t a public figure, and the posts “caused injury to her reputation and business interests, and caused her to suffer emotional distress and humiliation.”

Fishbowl “published one of the more despicable Wendy Wednesday articles on the day Ms. Gordon’s mother died,” the complaint reads. FishbowlDC is owned by Mediabistro, which in turn is owned by WebMediaBrands. The suit names both companies, as well as FishbowlDC Editor Betsy Rothstein and contributor Peter Ogburn.

The Wendy Wednesday posts appear to have been removed from FishbowlDC, a site that displays an unusual interest in the appearances of female journalists. Last year, Rothstein created a firestorm online when she published a post criticizing the “Sexpot” looks of some reporters’ Twitter photos. And the site has made frequent sport of the journalist Michelle Fields, whom it once took to task for “exposing a large chunk of her breasts on national TV.”

In November 2011, Rothstein ran a letter she characterized as being from a “hate-filled reader who thinks D.C.’s uber publicist Wendy Gordon ought to take legal action against us for running Facebook pictures that she publishes daily for all the world to see.”

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of pending litigation, we do not believe that there is any merit to the claims and plan to defend against them vigorously,” WebMediaBrands counsel Mitchell Eisenberg says in an email to Poynter.

Previously: FishbowlDC’s Rothstein criticized for accusing female journalists of going for ‘the sexpot look’

(Via Will Sommer)

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