Betsy Rothstein
Betsy Rothstein Credit: Photo by Darrow Montgomery

We’re still one cruel month away from the first hearing in Washington publicist Wendy Gordon‘s lawsuit against Washington media site FishbowlDC. But by reading Fishbowl owner Mediabistro’s response to the complaint, filed Wednesday, we can get a taste of  the company’s upcoming defense.

Gordon, you’ll remember, is suing Fishbowl for libel over a series of posts that  painted her as a boozy horndog willing to have sex with wax statues. The response from Mediabistro, on behalf of other defendants WebMediaBrands and Fishbowl employees Betsy Rothstein and Peter Ogburn, suggests unsurprisingly that they’re planning to claim First Amendment protections.

“The commentary, when viewed together with the photographs of plaintiff taken in public places that accompany the postings, represent satire, opinion, hyperbole, and other expressions of speech squarely protected by the First Amendment and District of Columbia law, or is otherwise not defamatory,” the response reads.

Mediabistro offers several other defenses as well, including a claim that the “Wendy Wednesday” posts were made without malice, that Gordon qualifies as a public figure, and that Gordon is making unreasonably inferences from the posts. In other words, she doesn’t actually have radioactive energy coming out of her thighs.

WebMediaBrands’ general counsel didn’t respond to a request for comment, but David Wachen, Gordon’s attorney, isn’t impressed. “They basically seem to be in denial on stuff that just is impossible to deny,” he tells City Desk.

In the response, Mediabistro denies Gordon’s claim that the site never asked Gordon what she thought of the series while it was running. The company also acknowledges that several of the “Wendy Wednesday” posts were taken down at one point without a retraction or apology to Gordon.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery