My Lawsuit Threat of the Day

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 10 2011 1:06 PM

My Lawsuit Threat of the Day

Among my ad hoc standards for what I do and don't report on: I ignore birther activist Orly Taitz, and I don't quote Judson Phillips as a "Tea Party leader," because he's a fairly minor player in the movement. As long as Taitz and Phillips are going to say stupid things about me, though, I'll waive my rules for a few minutes.

So: Phillips released a statement about the need to fight back against, and wrote this:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


At Tea Party Nation, we know something about having the left try to destroy you.

A year ago, as we were preparing for the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, a group of liberal journalists, led by David Weigel, now of, tried to destroy our convention. Sarah Palin could have cut and run because of the heat. She did not.

This is flattering, but it's not really what happened in late 2009 and early 2010. I was one of many reporters who started writing about the convention because it was where Palin planned to make her first televised political speech since 2008. The news hook was not Tea Party Nation, which was putting on the conference, but the fact that Palin would be paid six figures for speaking there. The for-profit nature of the event stayed part of the story because two members of Congress, Michele Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn, bailed at the last minute over ethics concerns. Luke O'Brien of AOL News and Ken Vogel of Politico were out in front on these stories.

So that's Phillips's point. Here's Taitz's.

David Weigel interviewed me twice. One of those times was in KY at the Knob Creek shoot and gun show.

He did not write a word of truth about the interview. He also took a picture of me, standing in front of a table with petitions. He took another picture of a similar table with some T-shirts with swastika and he put one on top of another, implying that I am a nazi.

A number of people were there with me. One of them is a Tea party activist Theresa Padgett and she can testify to what happened. she urged me to sue him, but since I have so many law suits going, I just did not have time. Maybe Mr. Phillips can look into this.

Here's the page with the photo Taitz is talking about. You'll notice that it includes photos of Taitz at a booth where people could sign up for information on the Obama birth certificate conspiracy, pictures of Nazi paraphernalia, and pictures of the rest of the show. There's no implication that Taitz is a Nazi, any more than appearing next to Charlie Sheen in a slideshow implies that you, too, are Charlie Sheen.

I did interview Taitz. We recognized each other and she pulled me away for a one-on-one interview in the cafeteria of the gun show grounds. I didn't end up using the interview, because most of it consisted of Taitz showing me documents which, according to her, proved that dozens of other Americans used the Social Security number that belonged to Barack Obama. This had convinced Taitz that Obama was using a fake Social Security number. I decided to ignore all of this when I wrote my story; John Richardson, who was also there that day, ended up spending more time with Taitz . Here's the section about the birther booth in my piece:

"We need your help," says Carl Swensson, the group organizer who has put together a "citizen jury" to indict the president. "They can’t go across the country and arrest everybody, although they do have pretty good facilities in the FEMA camps," he says, referring to a conspiracy theory about the government building holding centers for dissidents. In the early afternoon Swensson and Padgett were joined by Orly Taitz, an attorney who has filed multiple lawsuits challenging the president’s citizenship, and they got organizers to read an announcement about their effort over the loudspeakers. By the end of the day they have collected at least 400 signatures, and dozens more from retired military members who wanted to sign on to one of Taitz’s lawsuits. 

Given her record with this stuff, it was probably a good idea that Taitz didn't sue me for accurately reporting on her appearance at the gun show.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


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