What we’ve come to expect: media bias in Alaska

In what conservative Alaskans have come to expect from our state’s LSM, these outlets failed to report the most salient point of the “Offer to Enter Judgment” requested by the borough and its former Mayor Jim Whitaker, which is that it is a judgment in Miller’s favor. This is the exact final judgment that Miller would have received if he had won a jury verdict in this case, plus whatever dollar amount the jury would have awarded.

Some Alaska media outlets have published variations of the theme that Joe Miller and the Fairbanks North Star Borough and its former mayor Jim Whitaker entered into a settlement agreement, or “offer of compromise” that allowed the borough to simply pay $5,000 and avoid any statement of liability. The Anchorage Daily News entitled its story, “Joe Miller Accepts Offer of Lawsuit Compromise,” the Alaska Dispatch, “Joe Miller settles lawsuit with Fairbanks borough,” and the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, “Joe Miller, who claimed damages of more than $160000, settles for $5000 and declares victory.”

Interestingly, each of these so-called news outlets were all parties to the litigation against Mr. Miller. In fact, the Alaska Dispatch remains involved in the litigation and is actually seeking to be reimbursed for its attorney’s fees from Mr. Miller. It’s also interesting to note that each of these supposedly impartial news outlets were the same entities that repeatedly reprinted demonstrably false stories during the campaign. One notoriously false tale, that Joe was an attorney and/or was making $70,000 per year when he received a discounted fishing license seventeen years ago, was never corrected by any outlet despite the campaign’s repeated demands.

Contrary to these papers and the Dispatch blog, there was no settlement and there was no “offer of lawsuit compromise.” There is no settlement document of any type with all of the parties’ signatures. Rather, the borough and Whitaker served an “offer to enter judgment” under Alaska Civil Court Rule 68. No matter what extraneous words they included with the offer, no matter the media spin they and their attorneys are trying to create regarding “no admission of liability”, Rule 68 mandates that “the clerk shall enter judgment” and Rules 58 and 58.2 provide for the form of that judgment. See Alexander v. State Dept. of Corrections 221 P.3d 321, 326 (Alaska, 2009) (Money judgments must conform with the sample judgment form published at the end of Civil Rule 58.2.).

Obviously, if Whitaker and the borough attempt to unlawfully qualify the judgment itself, in violation of Rules 58, 58.2, and 68, and/or the judge refuses to enter judgment, this case will not resolve at this point, and will likely be litigated vigorously to conclusion. Stay tuned.