15 July 2008

Welcome to the Hurt Locker: Robert T. Johnson, Bronx District Attorney

In this first installment of our new feature, we'll take a look at a little political story from the Big Apple that promises to grow. 

Forget your Homer Simpson Moments

Those are just easy ones

When you really shag up a story in a way that will have predictably bad results, you earn a trip to The Hurt Locker.

hurtlockerNow, the New York Times story on the legal wrangles between the Bronx district attorney's office and a New York political blog, Room Eight, doesn't quite give the full detail on this tale from the big borough.

Yes, the Bronx DA served the blog owners with a subpoena seeking details about some people who had posted on the site. 

And yes, the subpoena included a warning that disclosure of the existence of the subpoena could lead to legal action.   Well, unless a judge of competent jurisdiction told you it was okay to talk.

And yes,  the DA's spokesperson said that the district attorney himself hadn't seen the subpoena before it was served but once he did review it, the subpoena was withdrawn.

What the NYT didn't mention in the article is that the people the Bronx DA's office was hunting for had made some critical comments about the Bronx Republican and Democratic Party machines. 

Other than that the DA's office was completely tight-lipped about why they'd be so keen to get IP addresses and other identifying information.

But now that the subpoena is no longer in play, everyone's getting in on the story. like The Daily News and even The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Of course, the blog world will be weighing in, in ever increasing numbers.  Odds are good the pressure will mount on the state attorney general to launch an investigation.

What were they thinking in the Bronx?  They likely weren't thinking at all.

The subpoena.  Free speech.  A blog.  Politically-charged comment.  Sounds like a recipe for political controversy in itself.

But you can definitely count on a trip to The Hurt Locker when the subpoena is delivered to two guys, one of whom formerly pounded the keyboards for the Daily News while his blog partner works for Ketchum