Are you wondering what in the heck is up with all the recent vitriol in the internecine SF Weekly/Bay Guardian legal battle? I sure am — here’s my impression of what’s going on (make two hands flapping to symbolize yakking): blah blah blah LIBEL blah blah Village Voice sucks blah blah if you hate PG&E so much, why don’t you marry it? And now the Weekly is calling the Guardian “brain vomit” and Tim Redmond from the Guardian is calling a Weekly blog a premature ejaculation? Huh? This is like watching the Real Housewives of New York City, where no one is exactly sure why Kelly and Bethenny hate each other so much but they spend a lot of time discussing it.
Okay, here’s the sitch: you may vaguely remember (or not, there’s no reason why you should) that the Guardian sued the Weekly ages and ages ago over “predatory pricing,” claiming that the Weekly was undercutting the Guardian’s ad rates to bring down their main SF competitor. Well, the Guardian won the lawsuit last year — and $15.9 million — and now, the Weekly’s appealing. (Yes, we all find the Weekly very appealing! Har har.)
This week’s dustup: Redmond, in a bit of a gloatfest, sent the Weekly an email, purportedly to research a story, and, in between the taunting, asked if the Weekly was going to be posting a bond or otherwise paying the money the Guardian is owed from the case. The Weekly, through executive editor Mike Lacey, in response wigged out, gratuitously using Redmond’s first name in sentences (“Tim, I am not going to take much more of this,” that type of thing), throwing some punches of his own, and making some hilarious cultural references along the way. Redmond in response is basically “I’m rubber, you’re glue,” and then he writes it all up again. SFist has done a bang-up job making fun of these letters, I’m not even going to try.
Here, we’ll break it down and make it boring:
—What’s this bond business? Is the Weekly going to jail? No, as much as the Guardian wishes otherwise, no jail is involved here — they’re talking about an appellate bond, not bail. An appellate bond can be posted by a losing party when taking a case up on appeal, to basically put the money that the winning party would otherwise get into escrow while the appeal is pending. You don’t have to post a bond, but if you don’t, you have to pay the winning party right away.
—What about all this stuff about the Weekly absconding with assets or the Guardian rent-gouging or the class struggle or Dire Straits lyrics or the Rape of the Sabine Women? Eh, I’m ignoring it. It’s like a comment fight on Facebook — who cares?
—If the Weekly’s not posting a bond, won’t they have to pay the Guardian that $15.9 million right away? Yes, but it sounds like the Weekly’s not doing it — I’m not an expert on debt discharge or premature ejaculation or brain vomit or whatever we’re calling it now, but it looks to me like the Weekly is taking the position that the Guardian is a debtor like all of the rest of the Weekly’s debtors, and the Guardian will get paid in the order its call was received.
—Is the Weekly’s position actually right? I have absolutely no idea! i guess we’ll find out in the next installment of This Week’s Flareup in the Never-Ending Guardian/Weekly Battle.
—What lesson can we take away from this? The moral of this story is: this type of correspondence is the reason why, if you ever hire a lawyer, your lawyer will say “DO NOT TALK TO THE OTHER SIDE, I WILL HANDLE IT.” It makes me sad to see letters like this in the open.