Henry Scott, 18-month resident of West Hollywood and founder of WEHOville.com, began his tenure in the city offering to buy half of WeHo News in the early days of 2012, but instead took the eight-year-old company’s proprietary business data to investors and gathered capital to go into competition with West Hollywood’s first online news source.
The owner of that publication, however, is apparently not satisfied to provide us with competition; his tabloid-style publication has now resorted to libel and defamation of character.
On Monday, April 1, WeHo News published an exclusive story provided to us by West Hollywood city council member John Duran and his attorney of word from prosecutors that outlined the closure of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s investigation into the recently reelected city servant’s use of the city credit card to buy meals while he worked on city business.
The article contained extensive remarks from Mr. Duran’s attorney about the County- and State-wide implications of the “test case” the DA’s office had considered bringing, noting that the law governing cities’ spending on meals left too much room for prosecutorial fiat and calling for a statewide interpretation by the Attorney General, Kamala Harris.
This morning Mr. Scott, though, not only took issue with the article’s contents (likely because neither Mr. Duran nor Mr. Bird will talk to him or anyone connected to his publication because of a variety of journalist sins committed against them and other civic leaders since opening shop) but also made unfounded, untrue, unsubstantiated and libelous statements about me.
He wrote, “WeHo News, which billed its report that the Duran investigation had been dropped as an “exclusive,” used its news columns to promote Duran’s campaign and criticize his opponents. Its owner and editor brags that Duran, a lawyer, has provided him free legal services and financial assistance.” See a screen shot of the article here.
The first claim fails to bear up under scrutiny, because while his own publication spent inordinate time making specious and untrue charges against Mr. Duran, on WeHo News Mr. Duran’s opponents got accurate reporting that WEHOville often failed, or had too little courage, savvy or institutional memory to mention, including “Challenger, photog engage in dirty tricks” about Christopher Landavazo (and WEHOville’s photographer), “Candidate kettle calling incumbents black” and “The candidate who changes his spots.”
The second claim falls into the legally actionable category of defamation and libel, as it spreads misinformation designed to damage my reputation.
Mr. Scott says in today’s article that I “brag” about having a legal and financial relationship with Mr. Duran without presenting a witness or a quote to support his claim of bragging.
He also gets the facts wrong; my spouse and I used Mr. Duran’s services in 2010 in a landlord dispute, services for which we paid fair market rate (and have a contract to prove it. I redacted the private information, such as terms and the precise amount in question).
Additionally, he charges that I have been given “financial support” by Mr. Duran.
Mr. Duran’s campaign consultant bought campaign ads for both his clients Jeffrey Prang and Mr. Duran (something two other challengers did too); Mr. Prang bought campaign ads in our publication in 2009, as well. Other than that occasion, there has been no exchange of monies between Mr. Duran and me, nor can Mr. Scott produce documentary evidence proving it.
Furthermore, Mr. Scott operates a news publication that regularly engages in censorship when the message displeases Mr. Scott. He moderates all comments, allowing only those that he approves of to see the light of day. We have heard complaints from several sources that their voices were stifled, despite WEHOville’s vaunted policy that
On this particular article, I posted three rejoinders to his claims, none of which have been posted. Minutes after I posted the first of my comments accusing him of libel at 10:44 am, Dana Miller posted a comment that got through at 10:48 am.
My second comment, a reply to Mr. Miller that included mention of Mr. Scott’s censoriousness, went up at 10:54 am (I collected the comment URLs immediately following posting, along with the screen shots). My third comment, which reiterated my original comment in case it would fail to see the light of day, also missed the boat.
A prominent member of the community has asked if WeHo News would publish a review of his battles over censorship with Mr. Scott, including allegedly abusive E mails Mr. Scott sent.
Behind the scenes, Mr. Scott has engaged in continual harassment via E mail. On two occasions, he has sent WeHo News E mails that stated “Rumor going around… that you are no longer publishing. True? If so, care to comment? We'd be happy to do a story on Wehonews (sic) past if you have closed,” (3-28-13) and “I had heard that WeHo News no longer is publishing. Is that true?” on 12-19-12.
This despite the fact that 1) we published extensively on the two days prior to the latest on March 28, 2) he apparently watches our publication closely enough to respond within a few hours to stories we publish, as he did in this case and 3) he has also, as recently as 3/10/13, responded to articles we republished but did not place on our pages for public purview, this indicating that he uses an RSS feed to watch what we do.
In response to our refuting the “rumor of our demise,” Mr. Scott denied sending the E mail (seen here), saying, “Don't know what this is about. Not an email from me. We love competition!!”
UPDATED 4-3-13: In an E mail received last on 4-213, Mr. Scott informed WeHo News that "I find your situation quite sad."