I sued the Inquirer and Inga Saffron 3 ½ years ago knowing the difficulty of prevailing in a defamation suit.
As an indication of the quirkiness of the law, the first judge to hear the case, James Crumlish, ruled I was not a public figure. The last judge, Glynnis Hill, decided I was a public figure, and “public figures” enjoy less protection than private citizens.
After an agonizing 3 ½ years of legal costs and skirmishing, the trial against Saffron and the Inquirer began last week. (The details of why I was suing were presented in a previous post, but the short version is Saffron falsely accused me, among other things, of having a “taste for underage prostitutes.”)
In courtroom 254 in City Hall yesterday, a jury returned a verdict that Saffron had engaged in “outrageous conduct.”
In other words, she lied and defamed me.
Here is the statement I issued to the two reporters in the courtroom:
“I am satisfied with the verdict.
I thank the jury and my able attorneys Mark Schwartz and Jason Pearlman.
I feel my good name has been restored and I pray the Inquirer does not waste any more of its limited resources by prolonging matters.
The people who applauded Miss Saffron as a truth teller must now feel very foolish indeed.”
The jury mostly let the Inquirer off the hook, not blaming them for what happened, for not stopping it, for not reprimanding Saffron.That was curious, but not really that surprising.
The money awards were tiny, especially by Philadelphia standards: The jury awarded me $20,000 for emotional distress and mental anguish, $25,000 for humiliation and embarrassment and $1,000 in punitive damages, the last from Saffron.
I was never in it for the money.
Here’s the truth: Had they issued a sincere apology 3 ½ years ago this would have disappeared and not cost them one red cent.
But Saffron was too smug and self-righteous to apologize, and the arrogant Inquirer editors never knew what made me tick.
Daily News editors could have told them I would never back away from a fight. I would not wave a white flag even after the Inquirer filed suit accusing me of disparagement.
Now here’s an interesting turn: Their suit against me says I disparaged them when I called Saffron a Goddamn liar.
And now a jury has ruled that she is a Goddamn liar.
So is another jury going to find me guilty of disparagement for a truthful comment?
I really don’t think so.
I don’t think I should let this go without a treat for loyal readers, who maybe haven’t seen the video of Saffron’s outrageous, malicious, deliberate lies about me.
So here is a certified transcript of her remarks, with the truth presented in italics.
[START RECORDING 0:39:05 – 0:44:19]
MS. INGA SAFFRON: So I just want to say Stu and I have not been on speaking terms for at least a decade.
It was 4 years, the one and only time they spoke,
So very clearly, I’m the logical person to offer the opposing view. No one requested her to provide an “opposing view.” Opposing to what? The kind and true words that were spoken about Mr. Bykofsky? Party organizer David Lee Preston testified that was NOT what he expected to hear at the party that Mr. Bykofsky told him he did not want. Miss Saffron later apologized to Mr. Preston, but not to Mr. Bykofsky, despite her sworn admission that what she did was “very petty” and that she would not do it again.
The reasons that we are not on speaking terms or at least I’m not speaking to him, but I don’t think he’s – – me, is because he has repeatedly slimed me in his columns,
No evidence of “sliming” was presented, other than Mr. Bykofsky presenting her as a “bicycle advocate” and “zealot,” both of which are accurate.
has portrayed me as the out-of-control leader of a fringe cult.
She admitted under oath those were her words, not his.
That would be bicycle commuters, which I really am one. He seems to think that I’m in charge of all of Philadelphia’s bicyclists; I am not.
Miss Saffron testified that Mr. Bykofsky never said that, never used those words.
There’s this thing called the Bicycle Coalition. But Stu never called them. And–
MR. STU BYKOFSKY: [Interposing] That’s a lie.
MS. SAFFRON: Well…
MR. BYKOFSKY: That is a lie.
MS. SAFFRON: Well let me just–
MR. BYKOFSKY: [Interposing] I always spoke to them, and I can tell you who I spoke to. That is a goddamn lie.
Mr. Bykofsky testified that rather than “never” calling them, he quoted them in 10 of 14 columns. Miss Saffron testified that she misspoke, that she was “rattled” because Mr. Bykofsky yelled at her. The video clearly shows Mr. Bykofsky yelled only AFTER Miss Saffron lied about his professionalism.
MS. SAFFRON: Okay, let me, it’s my turn. It’s my time.
MR. BYKOFSKY: I’m not going to stand here and listen to this bullshit.
MS. SAFFRON: I can say, I can say–
MR. BYKOFSKY: [Interposing] I’m a reporter. I call the other side.
MS. SAFFRON: But wait, wait, this is what I’m about to say. Every time Stu has slimed in his columns, he never called me for comment. And that is true.
Mr. Bykofsky mentioned Miss Saffron in 4 columns published in the Daily News, the last one being several years before. All commented on her published work in the Inquirer and required no call.
I have never been called or given an opportunity to respond to any of the gratuitous ad hominem attacks.
There were no gratuitous nor ad hominem attacks. “Gratuitous” means lacking good reason or unwarranted. Each was in response to her ideas about bicycles or bicycle lanes, which was a public issue. He responded to her ideas. His comments were never “personal” — such as on her appearance or gender. That’s what “ad hominem” means and it never happened. Miss Saffron appears to take any legitimate criticism as personal, as evidence of a persecution complex .
And I think that should give you a sense of the kind of journalist that he is. And not only did Stu repeatedly use me as a punching bag,
Her ideas and work were legitimately criticized.
he has this friend,
She was unable to present any evidence that Mr. Bykofsky and Mr. Beitchman were “friends.”
his name is Ted Beitchman. Ted Beitchman was forced to resign from the Rendell administration after he hired some prostitutes for a party.
It was reported he hired strippers.
It’s a long, complicated story, but Ted Beitchman also joined in with Stu in repeatedly attacking me in his various vanity publications.
There was no joint operations or conspiracy, she admitted on the stand.
And it’s no wonder that I studiously avoided him too. So we disagree on just about everything, of his three favorite subjects, pistols, prostitutes, puppies. We might find common ground on the puppies.
By “puppies,” she may have meant the dozens of stories Mr. Bykofsky wrote, from blowing up the city animal shelter with an expose, to writing columns that helped free elephants from the city zoo, which had a space too small for them. Mr. Bykofsky covered the arrival of one of the elephants in a Tennessee sanctuary.
By pistols, she might have meant the more than a dozen columns Mr. Bykofsky wrote on the gun crisis in America. Mr. Bykofsky supports the Second Amendment, as he does the other nine, but advocates universal background checks, closing the gun-show loophole and reducing the size of magazines, and more.
For his “favorite subject” of prostitutes, that has been highlighted in only two columns in 47 years. Just twice. Favorite? In whose mind?
For all that, I did read Stu sometimes, not every crazy column, but some of them. And many left me outraged, like the infamous column about his taste for child prostitutes in Thailand. I think Stu should have–
MR. BYKOFSKY: [Interposing] This is a total fucking lie. The jury agreed it was a lie.
MS. SAFFRON: You can, that’s online. That’s still available.
MR. BYKOFSKY: That’s, read it online.
MS. SAFFRON: Still I will say that Stu sometimes made me uncomfortable–
MR. BYKOFSKY: [Interposing] Great idea.
MS. SAFFRON: –in more valid ways.
Only one-third of the 2011 column she references was about the Thai sex trade and nothing in it mentioned “his taste for child prostitutes in Thailand.” Contact with children is a is forbidden in both Thai and U.S. law, while consenual sex with adults does not violate U.S. law. Prostitution is illegal in Thailand, but the law is honored in the breech. It is simply unenforced — except for juveniles, which is taken seriously. Others testified that the Daily News would never print a column that advocated and endorsed child prostitution.
MS. SAFFRON: And as much as I dislike his worldview and his cynical provocations, I believe that we need to hear different views in our journalism. And we can’t just be talking to ourselves. And so while it was worthwhile to have someone with a completely different perspective to remind us what a lot of our readers think, the kind of readers who might have voted for Trump,
Mr. Bykofsky endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and voted against Donald Trump, in 2020, and endorsed John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro this year.
we need to hear these people and not to dismiss them. But we also need to find ways to enlighten and inform them and ideally win them over to reason. And for me, the problem with Stu’s work is that he simply aided and abetted their stupidity, which is not to say that Stu cannot be entertaining. He has an old newspaperman style, a voice, and pacing, and he can deliver a good zinger. And these are the essentials of the – – art. And note that I said newspaperman, not journalist.
An unwarranted attack on a journalist with many, many awards.
He hails from a time when the people that put out newspapers were men. Tiresome gender grievance. And it is not lost on me that some of the gratuitous attacks in his columns were leveled against women.
She offered evidence of none and the record shows none were “gratuitous” and many, many more attacks were leveled against men, which Miss Saffron does not seem to recognize through her SJW goggles, in which people are victims, rather than individuals.
So with his leaving, I hope we are getting a little further away from that unfortunate time.
FEMALE VOICE: Thank you.
MS. SAFFRON: So as a columnist myself with a lot of strong opinions, and I’m sure plenty of them are stupid, I very much believe in holding a grudge.
Grudge is a sign of malice and she testified she was egged on by three other young female reporters who hated Mr. Bykofsky’s point of view, the non-progressive, centrist point of view, offered by, in David Lee Preston’s words, the “dean of Philadelphia columnists.”
So retirement or not, I’m still not – -.
MR. BYKOFSKY: Actually the last time we spoke was about four years ago when I invited her to come down to the corner of 8th and Market and see how long it took for some bicyclists to go through a red light. It happened before I finished my cigarette. I don’t even smoke anymore. That’s when we last spoke. She didn’t like it, and half the things she said were lies.
MS. JENICE ARMSTRONG: All right, all right.
MR. BYKOFSKY: I didn’t attack her by name because…
MS. ARMSTRONG: All right–
MR. BYKOFSKY: [Interposing] I couldn’t use her name in the Inquirer. So it’s a sack of shit lie, check it yourself.
MS. ARMSTRONG: – – does anybody want to say anything good? Okay, Christine, Christine Flowers.
Here is the Inquirer’s coverage of the trial: https://www.inquirer.com/news/pennsylvania/inquirer-defamation-lawsuit-stu-bykofsky-inga-saffron-20221214.html
And for balance, Ralph Cipriano
Which one seems more fair?