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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Bob Lobel Settles Libel Lawsuit with Darby Conley

The Boston Globe reports that Boston CBS4-TV Sportscaster Bob Lobel has settled his libel lawsuit against Darby Conley and Conley's syndicator--the New Bedord Standard Times. The lawsuit arose following Conley's May 13 2005 "Get Fuzzy" cartoon. The cartoon portrayed Lobel as an on-air drunk. Lobel is arguably the most prominent sports media celebrity in New England. As we discussed in May, celebrities encounter particular difficulty in proving libel, a factor that may have motivated Lobel to settle.

Settlement terms were not disclosed. Instead, the parties issued the following joint-statement (and compare the bolded text with the dialogue in the cartoon above: hypocrisy anyone?):

The parties have settled the matter to their mutual satisfaction. The defendants did not intend to suggest that Bob Lobel has ever been intoxicated while on the air, and apologize to him for any harm caused him by the publication of the 'Get Fuzzy' cartoon. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

In addition, Bob Unger, Editor of the New Bedford Standard Times, issued an apology in his newspaper:

I want Mr. Lobel to know that we are sorry.

We didn't edit comic strips very carefully before (they come fully arranged on a page for us and all we have to do is add the advice strips that run alongside them and ship the page electronically to our Fairhaven printing plant), but I can tell you we pay closer attention to them now.

And while I agree that comic strip creators, along with political cartoonists, should have a good deal of freedom to criticize our elected officials and public figures in general, I believe that Mr. Conley overstepped the lines of what's considered acceptable comment by a longshot.

Only Mr. Conley knows whether or not the strip was intended as a personal attack or was simply a bad joke, but I believe it was sophomoric and mean-spirited, and United Feature shouldn't have let it get past its editors -- and The Standard-Times shouldn't have published it.

Readers will notice that we stopped running "Get Fuzzy" two weeks ago. The cancellation, I hope, makes a big point in a small way: The Standard-Times is not in favor of needlessly causing any individual, famous or not, public embarrassment -- in whatever form.

Newspapers have great power to help or to harm, and in this case we hurt someone for no reason.

Mr. Lobel, I'm sorry and we apologize.
A pleasant enough apology by the New Bedford Standard Times, but it would be better if Conley issued an apology himself, rather than having his lawyers draft a statement that is patently belied by his own cartoonish actions.


howdy - you hvae an interesting blog and I enjoyed reading it! I know I like it when people appreciate my work, so I thought I would give you some credit!


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Anonymous fantasy football cheat sheets -- 1/30/2006 4:21 PM  

Lobel getting rankled and suing a notriously crass and obnoxious cartoon borders on the absurd. Your defense of Lobel goes well beyond that line.

Any respect I ever had from Lobel was lost with this act. Both Bob and you need to lighten up.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 11/11/2006 7:07 PM  

thank you

Anonymous kurtlar -- 2/10/2009 3:16 PM  

thank you

Anonymous bilim -- 2/13/2009 5:17 PM  

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