WASHINGTON — A local council member is demanding a newspaper get his permission before printing his name, and the newspaper is responding.
Delauter made the threat on Facebook after he was referenced in an article over the weekend. He wrote that Frederick News-Post reporter Bethany Rodgers would “be paying for an attorney” if she used his name again without his authorization.
Rodgers had written in a story that Delauter shared another councilmember’s concern about a lack of reserved parking spaces for councilmembers at the county government building.
“It’s a ridiculous request, it’s something that we’ve never seen before, and it’s something that, it’s just not going to happen,” Managing Editor Terry Headlee tells WTOP.
The News-Post responded with an online editorial that name-checks the councilman over and over again. And if that’s not enough, the first letter of each paragraph spells out Delauter’s name.
Headlee says after the editorial was posted early Tuesday, afternoon traffic on the paper’s website was six times higher than normal.
The editorial will appear in the printed version of the paper on Sunday.
“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” says Al Tompkins with the Poynter Institute of the councilman’s demand. “Imagine in Washington, D.C. if every journalist had to call a politician in order to mention their name. You’d do nothing but be on the phone.”
But in addition to that, this politician needs to understand the tenets of free speech and free press. And he’s not even in the ballpark of understanding that. You don’t need permission to say somebody’s name, most particularly if they’re a public official.”
WTOP has put in a call to Delauter’s office for a response.