I Was Trolled Is No Defense For Emma Roller [Opinion]
Cassandra Fairbanks attorney Robert Barnes in front of a Hollywood sign.

I Was Trolled Is No Defense For Emma Roller [Opinion]

Steve Miller was snapped adjusting his tie and the next day, the murmurs that he was covertly making a white supremacy gang signal began to spread. Steve Miller is Jewish by the way, so if he was, at the very least we can be thankful that Neo-Nazis and the KKK seem to finally be making a more concentrated effort to become inclusive. This isn’t the only evidence of the trend either. Since June 1, a Jewish progressive professor at famously left-leaning Evergreen College was “exposed” as a white supremacist, a half-Iranian feminist and her half-Puerto Rican boyfriend (Laci Green and Chris Ray-Gun) have been outed as “alt-right Neo-Nazis.” In the heat of all this, half-Puerto Rican journalist Cassandra Fairbanks begins her legal battle against former New York Times writer Emma Roller and current Fusion senior reporter, is being sued for defamation and libel for her accusation that Cassandra Fairbanks was a white supremacist based solely on the fact that she made the “OK” hand gesture. Cassandra had been seen flashing the OK sign long before the trolls at 4chan embarked on their latest successful media hoax, convincing reporters and the public that “OK” was the latest appropriated symbol to become associated with white supremacists.

I interviewed Robert Barnes about this case. Currently, Emma Roller is still in the process of being served and the suit was delivered to Buzzfeed at the end of May. Barnes was initially approached by Cassandra for legal advice but he had already been seeking a similar case to take to court so he accepted her pro bono. Fusion editor, Dodai Stewart, calls this a case of reporter intimidation. Barnes sees this as just the latest attempt by the hegemonic mainstream media apparatus to monopolize speech, censor by shaming, censor by threatening other people and censor by creating an atmosphere of violence. “Nobody’s sending Antifa to Emma Roller’s house, nobody’s been threatening Emma Roller whereas people every day people are threatening Cassandra Fairbanks, so there’s only shoe where that fits. In this case Cinderella is definitely Emma Roller.”

Robert Barnes, who made some news recently for winning a few major bets in Europe gambling on Trump winning the presidency explained that 15 to 20 years ago a broadly understood legal definition of defamation existed that appeared to allow someone to call someone a racist consequence free. The courts slowly started cutting away at this until about 10 years ago. A case that went all the way to the supreme court held that opinions can be grounds for a defamation suit. Following this, a whole series of lower court cases emerged. From this point on, “I think they are probably a racist” no longer was protected speech if there was no basis in evidence for these claims. If you falsely claim someone is a racist, it’s as much defamation as calling someone a rapist or arsonist. According to Barnes, a lot of the media hadn’t quite caught up to this.

Barnes hopes the precedent that could be set in this libel suit could have a “broad scale, wholesale effect on the whole of journalism.” Making it clear that people like Emma Roller can’t hide behind the excuse of “that’s just my opinion” when making accusatory claims of this nature. Buzzfeed and Mediaite in their coverage seem to have left out major, relevant details such as the fact that the tweets became the basis of multiple news stories (Independent in the UK and Ha’aretz in Israel). The Independent story alone was shared over 40,000 times. The subsequent harassment and abuse that Cassandra experienced after these stories and the tweet went viral are also left out of Buzzfeed and Mediaite’s coverage. Mediaite refers to Cassandra as a “snowflake” for responding to libel that led to harassment and death threats by fighting back in court.

“A lot of people talked about the suit that clearly had not read the suit, that was the giveaway of the bias of the mainstream press.”

“A lot of people talked about the suit that clearly had not read the suit, that was the giveaway of the bias of the mainstream press.” Another giveaway, according to Barnes, was the fact that a writer for LA Times spent half of his day, while on Times payroll, coming up with excuses for Roller. Claiming that anyone who deletes a tweet does so because they have to hide was made when in fact it was Emma Roller who had at that time been deleting tweets before eventually making her entire Twitter feed private. Barnes says all relevant tweets on both sides have been archived and saved at this point.

“They think they are doing the world a favor,” Barnes speaks of the “new clerical class” of journalists attempting to act as intermediaries between world events and the world that experiences, intercessors between what happened and what the audience should think about it. “They see this as a power equation,” he says, comparing the situation to that of the play Equus, in which psychologists replace priests.

To Barnes, Cassandra represents some of the best of the press from 40 to 50 years ago and prior. What he calls the hey-day of the journalistic medium, a time in which reporting was a vocation, not a profession. A time in which most of the reporters in question came strictly from working class backgrounds. In order to win the suit, Cassandra needs to prove that Emma either acted with malice or that the defamation and libel resulted from negligence. Trying to play the laughable defense of “I was trolled” would be not only embarrassing but most likely would only prove negligence and lack of due diligence on the part of Roller. Barnes says that if she did manage to convince people she didn’t know better it would only show that she was “so sloppy, so careless” it may prove a “level of reckless disregard.”

Currently, Emma Roller is still in the process of being served and the suit was delivered to Buzzfeed at the end of May. Barnes was initially approached by Cassandra for legal advice but he had already been seeking a similar case to take to court so he accepted her pro bono. Fusion editor Dodai Stewart accuses Cassandra of trying to garner publicity with the suit calls this a case of reporter intimidation. Barnes sees this as just the latest attempt by the hegemonic left wing media apparatus to monopolize speech, censor by shaming, censor by threatening other people and censor by creating an atmosphere of violence. “Nobody’s sending Antifa to Emma Roller’s house, nobody’s been threatening Emma Roller whereas people every day people are threatening Cassandra Fairbanks, so there’s only shoe where that fits. In this case Cinderella is definitely Emma Roller.”

[Featured Image by Robert Barnes]

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