Politics makes….

When she pushed her dangerous agenda to change copyright law through Congress to protect her industry, company, and job, Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz got all huffy with me when I suggested that she should register as a lobbyist because she was trying to influence legislation in which she had a direct interest and benefit while being married to a U.S. senator.

Well, now she reveals in a puffy P-D video (at 4:50) that her husband will have to recuse himself from voting on her protectionist legislation – if, God and good sense forbidding, it ever comes to a vote – because he has a beneficial interest in it through her newspaper salary. Seems to prove my point, but nevermind. Note also that I asked her husband’s office to whether he was supporting the legislation and never got the basic journalistic (blogs are journalism, too) and governmental (they work for us) courtesy of a reply.

Schultz says that if she should have to register as a lobbyist, then so should I and other columnists and bloggers. Except, of course, I don’t have personal ties to Congress. Hell, I can’t even get them to answer questions.

At 20:55 in the video, Schultz says, “We’ve been hearing some things behind the scenes where the people who need to be paying attention to this proposal are.” Hmmm. Considering that this is legislation she’s trying to push and the people who matter in legislation are in Congress, one could be led to believe that she’s talking about lawmakers and one wonders whether she’s hearing these things, behind which the scenes. But she doesn’t say. So, nevermind.

Schultz also complains (at 23:40) that I didn’t pick up a phone to call her before commenting on what she said before all the world in her column. I didn’t see the need to call her; her opinions and relationships were clear. Again, I did try to report as I said in that post, asking her husband a question he did not answer. I’m told Schultz is writing her Sunday column on this and me again this week and she hasn’t picked up the phone, either. But nevermind.

Schultz is trying to say that I made this personal because I dared to bring up her marriage. That itself is a dodge. It’s not personal. It’s about our government and our laws – about our most precious law, the First Amendment. I believe she is proposing something very hazardous to the health of the First Amendment, the internet, and, ultimately, journalism as it must evolve online. I also think she should be scrupulously transparent not just about the fact that she is married to a senator – which she is – but also about every conversation about this legislation she has had with him and with other people in and around Congress – because she does have exceptional access.

Now, I hope we can return to the substance of the discussion and I hope she will respond to the my argument that the fundamental economics of media and journalism have shifted and that such attempts at protectionism would ultimately shut off newspapers and their journalism from the conversation that will distribute it. Let’s have a talk about the imperatives of the link economy.

(To repeat my relevant disclosures: I worked for almost 12 years for the parent company of the Plain Dealer, as president of Advance.net and, where I started the paper’s affiliated web site, Cleveland.com, gaining some resentment from staff at the paper because it did not control the site. I am a partner at Daylife, an aggregator but one of the sort – like GoogleNews – that Schultz has no problem with because it sends traffic to journalism at its source. I am directing the New Business Models for News Project at CUNY, where we are attempting to outline sustainable models for journalism. And I’m a blogger and twitterer who quotes from and links to journalism and believes that is a good thing.)

: LATER: Here’s Schultz’s next column, out through the syndicate. She doesn’t deal with the issues and discussion at all but tries to hide behind her own distortions to make this personal. She says I’m acting as if it’s news that she’s married to a senator. Of course, it’s not. But a columnist trying to push protectionist legislation to benefit her industry, company, and job while married to a legislator, yes, that’s news. And since I complained, it’s news that her husband will now recuse himself from voting on this dubious legislation. She and her idea are still dangerous.

  • Jeff, this whole damn debate is a trial lawyer thing. They’re the ones that started it and are keeping it going. They see it as a new field of litigation to cultivate.

    Steve Brill in an interview brought up the names of bigfoot DC lawyers Ted Olsen and David Bois.

    Two weeks earlier, there was this piece in the WaPo.

    That ain’t coincidence. It’s enemy action and the enemy is the litigation industry. They’ve found what they perceive as an injured party and they want to exploit it.

  • Rob Levine

    What was that Michael Jackson song about the man in the mirror . . .

    Don’t you ALSO have exceptional access? One of your most recent posts was about asking a question of the CEO of Google at the “Aspen Ideas Festival,” an opportunity that most working journalists do not have. Were you there as a journalist? If so did you ask any tough questions? If not, in what capacity were you there? And if you were pushing your agenda, what benefits did going to Aspen bring you, and it?

    Quis custodiet ipsos consultes?

    • Rob,
      I’m not MARRIED to a SENATOR.
      Jeesh, man, I don’t know what I ever did to you but your efforts at personal attack are getting pathetic.
      Talk about the issues or I will treat you like every other troll. I’ve quite had it.
      I have my own rules of collegiality here.

      • Rob Levine

        Jeff, my questions to you are not personal at all. I simply asked you some questions about your role in the public sphere. You do the same to other people all the time.

        Personally, I happen to like you, and I think your blog is really interesting. However, you consistently undercut the value of what I do for a living. I see no reason why I can’t defend the value of what I do for a living.

        • Rob,
          You don’t do that by attacking and I’m quite serious. Once more and that’s it.

        • Robert Levine

          I’ll stop commenting altogether. But I’m not sure why you retain the exclusive right to call other people “dangerous.”

        • I have an opinion, Rob. On my blog.

          Please do comment on substance: issues and ideas. Your attacks have become, well, repetitive.

          I’m not asking you to take your ball and go away, only your bat, the one you’ve hit me over the head with a few dozen times.

      • Andy Freeman

        > However, you consistently undercut the value of what I do for a living.

        Except that he doesn’t. He points out that you can’t make a good living doing certain things. He points out that it’s a good thing that you can’t copyright facts.

        > I see no reason why I can’t defend the value of what I do for a living.

        No one said that you can’t. However, your right to defend them doesn’t mean that other people can’t point out that they’re wrong.

        There is no “public good” in letting the first reporter to the hospital with enough money own the story. There’s no public good in letting TMZ control whether someone else can say “TMZ says ….”.

  • Laid Off Too

    Mr. Levine, I don’t have a media background. I’m in no way in 100% agreement with Mr. Jarvis on Google Streetwise and other issues.
    I’ve been reading this blog for 3 months. Everytime I’ve seen your name, I’ve known before reading your first comment in a thread it will be anti-Jarvis. In fact, if Mr Jarvis were to say Saturday is the 4th of July, I’d expect you to disagree. You then follow up with a second comment trying to clarify your position.
    I find it ironic that in the ‘Kill the Lawyers’ comments you were upset people were copying your material, which would imply you’re a good writer, but your comments would indicate you’re a poor writer for lack of clarity.
    I empathize with your position. We all do. But we don’t need you to ‘guard the guard’. If we don’t like Mr Jarvis’ blog, we’ll go elsewhere.
    Maybe I’m missing it, but I don’t see how this post undercuts the value of what you do for a living. I believe Mr Jarvis is trying to find ways to make your industry more credible.
    Please make your future objections more neutral and constructive in nature.

  • Mike

    Wow this is some great BETA journalism! Well done everyone!

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  • Tansley – Addendum

    I rather imagine the shovel-jawed mastadon made a lot of noise when it was sinking up to it’s neck in the tar pits at Rancho LaBrea, also…

  • The was a scene in the movie The Big Chill where Michaeal (and I forget the other characters name) are having a conversation. One of them states, “You know what, rationalization is better than sex.” The other one replies, “Come on, no way. There is nothing better than sex.” From which the reply came, “Have you ever tried to go a week without 2 or 3 rationalizations.”

    From my position, when these issues surface, there is a whole lot of rationalizations that occur. To the vested party, they make a lot of sense because they’re emotionally attached to the issue and the outcome. To the unvested party, it appears simplistic.

    Bottom line, Connie Schultz has access and she can rationalize a desired outcome. That is a dangerous DC combination.

    What has occurred here is exactly what journalism is supposed to achieve. Disclose the facts…

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  • John

    Lighten up Jarvis. You can dish it out but can’t take it eh? You’re starting to sound like Sarah Palin

  • John

    When you actually create some news instead of merely leech off those who do, maybe you’ll have a little more credibility. Otherwise, you’re just another leech.

    • Tex Lovera


      How is Jeff “leeching” off of those who “create” news?

      (Actually, “creating” news is part of the newspapers’ problem! Google “Bush National Guard Memo” or “Jayson Blair” for examples!!)

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  • Pete Kotz

    I don’t know if I like her idea either, Jeff. But I can tell you as a former Clevelander that’s she’s a decent, honest woman who’s excessively weird about not abusing the inside access with her husband. I’m sure being married to a senator gives you access most of us don’t have. But I can attest that she’s a stand-up woman. Whatever we think of her idea, I got money that says it’s coming from her heart, not some darker sphere.

    • Wherever it comes from, she has access to Congress and is lobbying Congress.

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  • Jeff, your detour into the alleged influence over Connie’s fantasy legislation misses a larger point – and misses the news.

    The real issue is that European publishers actually are uniting to revamp copyright law and these guys stand a lot better chance of it because of their culture and the fact that they have a real plan.


    The plan is to create a royalties distribution society (Full disclosure: I am a member of ASCAP and own a music publishing company) like ASCAP or BMI to collect and redistribute royalties to content creators.

    Makes sense but I think that the only way to collect that fee would be to collect it from ISPs.

    That’s the tricky part, no? Who and where is the toll booth?

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