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It's not Blackmail, It's Entertainment

The NYT has a short piece today that gives us yet another reminder of why it's so much fun to tell lawyer jokes. (Don't get me wrong: As a journalist, I appreciate this line of humor--much the way residents of Arkansas appreciate the existence of Mississippi when it comes time to whip out the jokes about poor, dumb, toothless, inbred crackers.)

Anyway, it seems the attorney representing that guy who tried to blackmail David Letterman over the late night host's fondness for playing hide the salami with staffers is arguing that--now, let me quote the article to make sure I get this right--defendant Robert Joel Halderman's "actions were legal because the information he possessed had independent value--meaning that, even without going to Mr. Letterman first, a third party like a book publisher or movie producer would have paid for it." 

Let me get this straight: So long as I attempt to extort money from someone so famous that the trash I'm shopping might also be turned into a tawdry made-for-TV movie-of-the-week, it should not be considered blackmail. Seriously? 

Rest assured I'm keeping a close eye on this case. If this whole journalism thing doesn't pan out, I have some ideas for a backup career.