Oy Vey!


Yesterday I posted the latest press release from the LFCNY concerning their ongoing campaign against Steven Cohen.

This morning I now find myself in the middle of a shit storm.

Here is the short version, or at least as short as I can make this.

If you read the LFNCY statement, you probably noticed the name Mark Sawyer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at UCLA, who attempted to mediate and negotiate an end to the LFCNY boycott of Steven Cohen.

For some context, Mark Sawyer apparently first involved himself in this situation by commenting on a post on EPL Talk entitled, Steven Cohen Offers Liverpool Fans No Hillsborough Apology.

Mr. Sawyer apparently is none to pleased with how he was represented by the LFCNY statement and is none to pleased I posted it. Little did I know that it was another statement released by an individual named Mel Abshier that was the real source of his anger…or one of them at least.

I received an email from Mr. Sawyer this morning that contained a series of emails that were exchanged between him and Mel Abshier. Now, I had not heard Mel’s name until this morning but as you would expect in a situation of this nature, Mr. Sawyer isn’t buying that and thinks I’m unethical. I don’t really care, because I’m not, but I’m fine with him having whatever opinion of me he wants. What confused me was the accusations that Mr. Sawyer made against me in his email:

“You should be ashamed of yourself. Since you are taking parts of supposedly confidential emails and publishing them”

My first thought…WTF? Confidential emails? My attempt to explain to Mr. Sawyer that I was lost as to what he was referring got me called unethical. Not a big deal really, I’ve been called worse. My reaction was simple, what do you do when someone accuses you of corresponding with someone you’ve never heard of? You contact that person! Mr. Abshier’s response, which I will detail in full after the fold, cleared up very quickly for me where Mr. Sawyers accusations came from.

In addition, Mr. Sawyer, based on his post in the comment section of the LFCNY press release post, wants the emails that he and Mel Abshier exchanged published here on my blog.

Mr. Ginge: please post the full set of emails I have sent to you so my comments can be placed in context. You owe that to your readers. Also you should mention that the communication that Abshier gave you to publish was confidential by his own claim. So who here has been lying?

Thank You,

Mark Sawyer

I’m not going to lie, I seriously doubt a lot of you will care about this story. So you can ignore what will likely be one hell of a long post. Which, if you were to print it would probably consume all of your perforated paper, printer paper and all other discount office supplies you may have at the ready.

UPDATE: The 2nd of the emails given to me by Mr. Sawyer was incorrectly marked from Abshier to Sawyer. I’ve fixed the notation in the post to reflect it was an email sent by Sawyer.

We will start with what is clearly the real origin of Mark Sawyer’s angst. I had not seen this document until Mr. Abshier provided me with a copy in response to my email query to him. What Mr. Sawyer is upset about is that he feels information contained in the statement below was taken from emails that he believed were to be confidential. Problem is, I’ve seen the email in which Mark Sawyer explicitly states that Mel Abshier is free to share any of their correspondence and/or post it on message boards.

The following was sent out by Mr. Abshier and was posted on various independent Liverpool message boards.

Mr. Steven Cohen enlisted Mr. Mark Sawyer, associate professor at UCLA, to mediate and negotiate the end to the Boycott. The branches required two issues be cleared up before negotiations to end the boycott could be entertained. Those two issues being the ones Mr. Cohen had very public went on record with: Threats to himself and family and an Anti-Semitic email. We informed Mr. Sawyer we required the information that Mr. Cohen had in fact turned over information to the FBI and that the Branches were willing to work with the FBI should any threat be deemed actionable. Further, we also wanted the information as to which North American Branch Eoin Alex Martin belonged to as that information was not part of the actual email document sent to Mr. Cohen. We wanted to name and shame Eoin and kick him out of that Branch.

Mr. Sawyer as part of a proposal to end the Boycott offered this: “WSD will provide all problematic correspondence to Liverpool FC so that those elements in and around the club can be sanctioned.”

The Branches required this information before any negotiations could begin as “good faith” on behalf of Mr. Cohen based on his failure to honor his two previous apologies.

Issue number one: Threats.

Background:

Per an email from Steven to Mel dated May 4th stating he was already in contact with the FBI:

“This past week i have ignored everyone from your world and have been in contact with the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and i am going to take action against every single death threat, threat against my property and threat against my wife to be and my step children to be.”

From the blog on BNET June 24th:

BNET: What portion of the email were death threats or anti-Semitic?

SC: The ones who are against us I would say about 30 to 35 percent of emails I’m getting courtesy of the Liverpool supporters’ groups have some sort of racist, anti-Semitic overtones to them and by the way were handed over to the FBI on Sunday.

( edited for updated link)
http://industry.bnet.com/advertising/10002746/qa-foxs-steven-cohen-on-the-advertiser-boycott-over-remarks-on-soccer-stadium-deaths/?tag=content;col1

Responses from Mr. Sawyer:

June 20th: “ That being said, law enforcement agencies have limited resources. They do not investigate these things routinely.”

June 21st: “ Mel since you want to know how the FBI works and you might not believe me. Read the 9-11 commision report. 9-11 happened because FBI agents were contacted about suspicious activities and never investigated. They took notes, that was the only record. “

July 6th: “ What he has represented to me is he has recently spoken to the LAPD and the FBI.”

Later email July 6th: “ As I understand it, I now have report numbers for Cohen’s contacts with the FBI and LAPD. Also, he did not contact them until quite recently. I could provide them to you, but there’s no point.”

So over the history of the Branches requesting proof that Mr. Cohen had in fact actually had gone to the FBI with documents related to “Threats”, we went from the FBI does not investigate these type of complaints to Steven had called them and there were report numbers but they won’t be provided. These actions speak for themselves.

Issue number two: Anti-Semitic branch member.

Background:

From my email to you dated July 21st and you ( Mr Sawyer) also have sent this to me July 27th: http://img44.imageshack.us/img44/2534/picture40y.png

Steven read that out on air. You will hear it at about 3:10 seconds in:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2KUzZ-fX34

Steven claims this email is from an official branch member of Liverpool football club. Steven also read out more than what is one the email screenshot as sent out by his message board administrator.

Can you have Steven provide the rest of the documentation of what Steven read out on air concerning the Branch the supporter claims to belong to as that is not indicated on the email itself. Also can you have Steven provide the rest of the information Steven said this “supporter” wrote.

There seem to be some major discrepancies in the audio and the email itself.

Response from Mr Sawyer:

“ Of course he can’t prove the guy is a member of the club.”

“ I think whether that guys is actually or card carrying member or not is really not material to this question. Unless you want to catch Cohen in a “lie”. But this point is Sophistry, pure and simple. Get over it. Like I said, we can all stipulate.”

The net result is that Mr. Sawyer stipulated Steven could not prove Eoin Alex Martin was a Liverpool supporter or was even actually a North American Branch member. That he would not turn over the relevant documents so that we may investigate which North American Branch, if any, Eoin belonged to. We have been unable to ascertain within the North American Branches that email address as a Branch member. Apparently even though Steven Cohen on air made a dramatic point over the email our questions were “really not material”.

Mr Cohen in his own words from his show July 19th:
“And before I read this, OK, I want you to understand, and I’m gonna let go, I want you to understand one thing about this, OK? This guy who wrote this email is an official member of an official supporters group which is sanctioned and an official supporters group of Liverpool Football Club. Liverpool Football Club have post, have post (sic) articles about us and this boycott, sanctioning this boycott on their website. Which means that it goes to Hicks and Gillett who sit on the board at Liverpool and who are two Americans, who are in my opinion, and you can say I’m connecting the dots or whatever, in my opinion they are in charge of this.”

The North American Branches feel that Mr. Cohen’s on air statement is very “material”.

On July 6th, 2009 Mr. Sawyer concluded all negotiations: “ I think we’re done here. “

In the end Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sawyer would not provide the information on the two serious issues that we offered our help on. Even though the information would have been handed over as part of Mr. Sawyers proposal to end the Boycott. Instead they ended the negotiations rather than hand the information over. These two issues would have benefited society as a whole, benefited Mr. Cohen, and helped the North American Branches to eliminate unwanted individuals.

We will let the record of what has transpired speak for itself.

Got tired head yet?

As Mark Sawyer has requested both in comments on my blog and in emails to me, here are the emails exchanged between the two, or at least the ones Mark Sawyer wants released. I’m posting them unedited and unchanged, exactly as there were sent to me this morning.

From Sawyer to Abshier-

Mel-

I’ve learned a lot.

1. That some people still don’t know the difference between a lie and a difference of opinion. I should have known better some people also still don’t believe in evolution.

2. Liverpool fans along with people in the mountains above pakistan are intolerant of opinions other than their own.

3. A friend in England (psychology professor) uses football supporters to study negative concepts of identity politics and formation. I thought you could not compare football fans to other kinds of loony tribalism. I was wrong. He is completely right. This episode has demonstrated the worst of identity politics.

4. I learned that some people like yourself are willing to compare minor tragedies to the holocaust in a cavalier fashion.

5. I have learned that folks like yourself are at best tolerant of casual anti-semitism and at worst guilty of it yourself.

6. I have also learned that Liverpool fans are so defensive that any criticism of themselves of the club by not one of their own is met with ridiculous defensiveness.

7. People can be stunning in their myopia. On one hand talk about recognizing tragedy and on the other ignoring serious and bigger wrong.

8. That the tribal instinct in the game is still there just beneath the surface and could erupt in violence at any time.

From Sawyer to Abshier-

On reports. There are as yet no reports as my understanding is the investigation is ongoing. I perfectly well understand the branches are a loose confederation including the idea there are some non-offical sites etc. Have you said anything publicly about racism or anti-semitism? I also know while you have said don’t email Steven have you specifically referenced problematic behavior and called it by name and stated it is unacceptable. I ask in earnest. Because it is the responsible thing to do if you are going to continue to pursue your action. Lots of people are hurt by this. I have a friend who’s parents are holocaust survivors and when they saw that email they gasped. Just like you feel Steven opened a wound for Hillsborough survivors, perhaps since you are not a minority or don’t have that kind of trauma in your past you feel the “hit delete” etc. is good enough. It isn’t. At least not for me. If the families of Hillsborough are traumatized think of holocaust survivors and their families when they hear some of that garbage. Even if it is one person!?!?!

As I understand it, I now have report numbers for Cohen’s contacts with the FBI and LAPD. Also, he did not contact them until quite recently. I could provide them to you, but there’s no point. You would just come up with some new demand or concern or bit of chicanery. It is exhausting and just silly.

What degree of responsibility Liverpool FC or your movement has for supporters or people inspired by you is a matter for debate, not facts? Would you be anymore responsible if EOIN (or whatever) is a card carrying member or not? Even if he was your argument still applies as does Cohen’s if he is not. The actions of the club and the branches have created an atmosphere in which the email was sent. I listened to his comments and it is clear one could judge for oneself how much one can connect the dots. It is not an exaggeration but a logic.

I also am really stunned. I have reviewed Cohen’s comments and as bad as they were, and as horrible the tone, he never said Liverpool fans killed or murdered their own. To use your terms you are lying when you say that or it is at best an exaggeration.

From Sawyer to Abshier-

Mel,

You are acting like a teen age girl. Perhaps you never went on a date at that age but I keenly remember girls being angry and when asked what they were angry about the response was, “you should know”. That’s been your response to me. As I am not Steven I have never said anything to offend the victims of Hillsborough. I enter that discussion with clean hands. In as much as a crafted an apology based upon my best understanding of what has been said in events, even if this goes nowhere, it is only respectful since I have asked to explain to me where I am “in error”. I also spent hours arguing with Steven about said events and making him understand where he was in error. I did this because it was right. And I of course believe he was wrong. Now if I am in error, I may have been guilty of misinforming Steven. Are you saying I have done this on purpose and with malice? See we are right back to the teen age girl- she wants you to divine what has offended her and she assumes whatever happened that your intentions were bad.

What he has represented to me is he has recently spoken to the LAPD and the FBI. I can request he provide a copy of a receipt for a report from the LAPD, they always collect one and as I have not dealt with the FBI (my calls have when I have contacted them been taken by an agent on the phone and nothing ever came of it- one case was a threat of this kind), I can ask him if he has anything. I will put in this request today.

On the “member” non-member issue. Cohen posted the email or read it. Everyone knows that the email could not even be from the person it claims to be from. People judge these things for themselves. The person represents themselves as a Liverpool supporter.

What disturbs me about your response is you are first of non-responsive about dealing with things published on public LIverpool fan club message boards. It seems you are hung up on this one email because you want to try to catch Cohen in a lie. If I am correct I am saddened by this. It seems you are more interested in scoring technical points against Cohen than seriously dealing with the issue. Of course he can’t prove the guy is a member of the club. Even if the email said, “As a member of the Liverpool supporters club of ……” that still would not be proof unless he had access to your member rolls. Obviously you and I both know he does not.

in fairness, Steven is arguing not that you or Hicks told people to send anti-semitic emails to him, but that it is a forseeable outcome of the actions and there needs to be more responsibility for it. Of course your counter is that you have discouraged this type of communication or at least emailing Cohen. You have not to my knowledge said anything about racist stuff but if you have I don’t know. In general your attitude about it has been pretty cavalier and that he can hit delete or that you are not responsible for those people. That is a fair argument and some might be convinced that what you have said is not enough, other might agree with Cohen. I think whether that guys is actually or card carrying member or not is really not material to this question. Unless you want to catch Cohen in a “lie”. But this point is Sophistry, pure and simple. Get over it. Like I said, we can all stipulate. If you can’t say if or if not the guys is a member who can? Further why has there been no effort to clean up what you are responsible for, your own message boards?

On the final point. I cannot suggest that Cohen take such a ban. It is overly broad or undefined and has real economic consequences. For example if Cohen were to step down from WSD. WSD were to overtime go out of business and he were to start a show up entitled say “Global Soccer Daily”. Would that be in violation of the letter or spirit of what you are proposing? I am raising these questions because it involves serious business and serious consequences as you have delineated and the terms need to be clear. Further, honestly you have committed to nothing. In the plan I presented there were clear steps to be taken by the WSD in nothing you have said is it clear the boycott will end or that you will do anything. I have asked you to propose some workable language and take some time to think about it. Cohen would be wrong to agree to resign if only days later some innocent action were perceived to be in violation of the terms because what that meant was unclear. Mel says “I don’t care about x or y” is not good enough for me to take to him. I need a very specific proposal of what such a ban would look like. There are real practical concerns on all sides about that. Don’t you agree?

I have to ask a question Mel. Man to man. Are you really acting in good faith here? The bar keeps moving you keep raising side issues and I can be sure obviously Steve has said some nasty things about you and the boycotters. That is the nature of the conflict. It is part of the pettiness that got us here in the first place. But are you serious.

Also given the proposal I put on the table and how comprehensive it is. It puts the “truth” out over the WSD airwaves etc. and has concrete steps, I am not sure it does not better serve your objectives. Folks who like the show and want to listen will be satisfied. The topic will not be covered again etc. In this email and passed emails it seems that one there is a substantial personal vendetta against Cohen. Also, that you and the branches are getting something out of the boycott that is not apparent and transcends setting the things right for victims and their familiies to the degree Cohen can do that.

I am trying to do my best here, but there is a huge (warranted) lack of trust on both sides. Both sides have hurt feelings and both have huge egos.

You’ve also like Steven been willing to offer more bluster than thought.

I will obtain documentation from Cohen other than that, the ball is in your court. Please respond about the “error” and offer some specific language on a ban. Be a man.

Thank You,
Mark

From Abshier to Sawyer-

Mark:

We have asked for proof he has sent or registered the “threatening” emails with the FBI as he has claimed. You seem to come up with a different excuse every time we have asked. Originally the FBI wouldn’t accept these types of claims using the 911 commission report as a reason why. Then when confronted with a direct quote from an article you acquiesce into we should go to FOIS. Now it is you’ll ask about his FBI agent.

Either you go find out for yourself that he has done as he has claimed or quit wasting yours and my time.

As for the Eoin escapade. It was Steven who claimed he was a Branch member. Why does it matter? Surely you are not asking that question!! Steven very specifically from the show link provided brought that up. It was Steven who also said in the same link–connect the dots–Branch member …to the club because of their “support” for our boycott… to the owners themselves. He did it with malice to beat the Branches over the head with and link anti-semitism to the Branches, the club and the owners. His listeners took the bait. Even the WSD forums discussed this. I suggest you do listen to the link I have given you. Listen to Steven in his own words. Listen to him as he has a purpose in mind. He was very deliberate in what he was doing.

So now you are saying it was because Steven “believed” he was a branch member and has gone on record with his connect the dots crusade that ultimately led on another show to Steven posting my and Mr. Hicks email address on his website after giving them out on air and telling his show listeners to go directly to myself and Mr. Hicks. So all this and this is now being explained away as it was because Steven “believed” he was a Branch member but may not be able to prove it and you’ll so stipulate.

Very curious that, don’t you think? What do you think the club and Mr. Hicks will think, never mind what we may think.

What would you propose to rectify this?

If World Soccer Daily goes off the air for reasons beyond the boycott or Steven steps down from behind the microphone with very firm negotiated assurances he will not come back to the WSD show, that will end our boycott. What he does in the future after that is up to him. I would think the lesson will have been learned.

It seems to me there is only one person acting as an angry teen age girl and that is Steven Cohen as he seemingly continues to “exaggerate” at every turn. I may be pigheaded but at least I have been honest throughout all of this. Something apparently Steven may not have been with you.

Mel

From Sawyer to Abshier-

Okay- let’s be clear. What proof would confirm to you he has gone to the FBI. I know the LAPD gives a receipt for a report. The FBI does not but I ask him to list the name of his agent.

You have the email. I am sure Steven believes him to be a member. But obviously he can’t “PROVE” he is a member. Why does it matter? I am willing to stipulate that from his email address if you can’t prove he is a member neither can Steven. So, we are wiling to stipulate that there is no “proof” he is a member of your organization. Hell I mean without advanced techniques and investigation we could never prove there is such a person or that he is a Liverpool fan or whatever. I don’t understand how this is material and I also find it a bit folly when there are plenty of things I have provided you on your own message boards. What are you doing about that? Those are members no doubt.

So, you are stating clearly that the branches would accept a “Liftetime” ban from Steven appearing on the radio and nothing short of that? Would that be sufficient or would some hold out for divestment.

I also am not sure just as a practical matter how such a lifetime ban would work. What if Steven were offered a post or opportunity to operate a football blog or do another podcast or appear as a guest? Would this violate such a ban? Can you provide me with some language such that I can propose it? What about appearing in a forum unrelated to football? Or would apperance or non appearance be limited to WSD? As you can see such a sweeping demand raises real practical difficulties.

Finally, Mel- I am just sorry I can’t read your mind. If you can’t tell me what you think is wrong. Stop acting like an angry teen age girl and state your business.”

So just to put some of the communication in context.

Thanks,

Mark Sawyer

So there it is. I’m sure no doubt many will ask why I posted all this. I don’t blame you asking, I really don’t know myself other than to try to show that I guess I only like being called unethical if I am actually acting unethically.

Take all this for what you will.