Betsy Rothstein
Betsy Rothstein Credit: Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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The defamation lawsuit filed by Washington publicist Wendy Gordon against media gossip blog FishbowlDC  finally had a hearing in court this morning. Most of the arguments at the scheduling conference centered on how physically close the plaintiffs and defendants could stand to be to each other.

But first, because it’s not the Fishbowl lawsuit without sexual slang used in a legal context: Does one of Wendy Gordon‘s Facebook picture suggest that she wants to “work the waxy wang” of Marion Barry, as Fishbowl once wrote?

It’s just a humor column, argued Fishbowl attorney Mark Bailen. The hotly contested Facebook picture, which shows Gordon next to a wax statue of the mayor-for-life, features just one of what Bailen called Gordon’s “bizarre” poses. “She’s kneeled down, essentially in his crotch area,” Bailen said.

Gordon’s attorney, David Wachen, disagreed, painting the series of “Wendy Wednesday” posts run by the site as “horrific.” Fishbowl continued to run the series even as Gordon’s mother lay dying at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Wachen said. The posts and pictures were only taken down after Gordon hired him. “How much are they definitely willing to pay to compensate her for the damage?” Wachen said. While the lawyers said they’ve been in contact, Judge Thomas Motley wanted more. At first, Motley said he wanted the attorneys to meet together with their all of their clients for an hour, but Wachen claimed that there were too many hard feelings. Then, Motley changed his request—-clients Gordon, Fishbowl editor Betsy Rothstein, and Fishbowl writer Peter Ogburn had to be no more than a block from the upcoming negotiations with their lawyers, so that the two sides could confer.

Eventually, the judge settled for a mediation plan, although it wasn’t clear how far apart Gordon and Fishbowl’s staff would be physically. “I think you probably stand a better chance without the clients,” Motley said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery