The day after SAG-AFTRA presidential candidate Matthew Modine threatened to sue rival Fran Drescher for defamation until she points a public apology, her Unite for Strength slate doubled down on her declare that Modine’s MembershipFirst slate violated the union’s election guidelines.
An legal professional for Modine’s MembershipFirst slate has known as the allegations “defamatory,” and notes that the union’s election committee, which regarded into the matter, has not accused him or his slate of any wrongdoing.
In an e mail despatched Friday morning to the union’s members, Unite for Strength stated: “The LA Times reporting that Modine’s MembershipFirst were found to have again broken the rules: Share on Twitter.”
SAG-AFTRA Election: Matthew Modine Threatens To Sue Fran Drescher For ‘Slanderous’ Accusations
On Thursday, Drescher informed members by way of e mail that leaders of Modine’s MembershipFirst slate “think it’s okay to violate the law and that the rules don’t apply to them.” She additionally claimed that “the non-partisan national SAG-AFTRA Election Committee found that Modine and MembershipFirst broke the rules.”
Nowhere within the election committee’s ruling, nonetheless, is Modine or MembershipFirst expressly accused of breaking any regulation or the union’s guidelines. See the committee’s full ruling here.
Drescher’s e mail additionally included a hyperlink to an August 23 Los Angeles Times article beneath the headline: “SAG-AFTRA election board finds KTLA, Modine-led group broke rules.” But neither she nor Unite for Strength point out of their emails that the Times later tweeted a correction to a tweet about its article that the newspaper stated had “contained incorrect information.”
An earlier tweet by the Times, which was accompanied by a photograph of a smiling Modine holding a SAG Awards statuette that he gained in 2017 for Stranger Things, stated that “SAG-AFTRA election board finds KTLA, Modine-led group broke rules,” and that “KTLA breached SAG-AFTRA election rules with Sam Rubin-Joely Fisher interview, committee says.”
While the election committee discovered that KTLA allegedly breached the union’s guidelines and federal labor regulation, it didn’t discover that Modine or his group had damaged any guidelines or legal guidelines.
In its correction, the Times adopted up with a tweet that stated: “The committee concluded that a KTLA Aug. 4 interview of SAG-AFTRA secretary-treasurer candidate Joely Fisher on the L.A.-based TV network breached a federal law that prohibits employer resources from being used to promote candidates during an election. This replaces an earlier tweet that contained incorrect information. We regret the error.”
In an e mail to Drescher yesterday, MembershipFirst legal professional Robert Allen stated that “Your defamation of Mr. Modine, your opposing candidate for SAG-AFTRA president, at the eleventh hour of the current election, is not only disgraceful and repugnant, but damaging to Mr. Modine’s professional reputation and career and hurtful to him personally and financially.”
This is “defamatory,” Allen informed Drescher, “as a result of it falsely states that Mr. Modine and Membership First, a gaggle by which Mr. Modine is a distinguished member, violated labor regulation and broke guidelines surrounding the present union election. The resolution of the National Officer Election Committee on August 10, 2021 Pre-Election Protest, which SAG-AFTRA emailed to you, by no means as soon as accused Mr. Modine of any wrongdoing – Mr. Modine didn’t seem on KTLA and had nothing to do with the interviews at difficulty. Nor did the Decision accuse Membership First of any wrongdoing. To the opposite, the one ‘bad actor’ recognized within the resolution is KTLA.
“Additionally, the very first sentence of the linked LA Times article specifically states that ‘A SAG-AFTRA national election committee has found that a candidate interview conducted by KTLA journalist Sam Rubin violated its rules.’ Nowhere in this article is Mr. Modine or Membership First characterized as having violated any labor law or union election rules.”
The resolution by the union’s nationwide election committee stems from an August 4 interview that KTLA entertainment reporter Rubin conducted with Fisher, a MembershipFirst candidate for nationwide secretary-treasurer, and Rubin’s August 11 interview with Sheryl Lee Ralph, a MembershipFirst candidate for L.A. Local vice chairman. Rubin can also be an L.A. Local board candidate operating on their slate, which he disclosed on the broadcasts. Modine by no means appeared on the present.
The election committee stated that “By permitting an employee running for office to interview and promote a candidate running on the same slate during work time, while displaying the MF (MembershipFirst) campaign logo and website address during the interview, KTLA crossed the line from journalistically appropriate news coverage of the election to improper promotion of MF candidates and denigration of UFS (Unite for Strength) candidates.”
Drescher has appeared on Extra discussing her candidacy, however she wasn’t interviewed by a candidate operating on her slate. As the SAG-AFTRA election committee famous, “our decision should not be read to preclude media outlets from broadcasting or distributing interviews by journalists who are unattached to any SAG-AFTRA slate of candidates for SAG-AFTRA office. Indeed, given the newsworthiness of the SAG-AFTRA election, numerous such interviews have already occurred. The KTLA broadcast involved special circumstances warranting a finding of a (federal labor law) violation – in particular the presence of a candidate interviewer from the same slate as the candidate interviewee, the display of the slate logo and website address during this promotional use of employer resources, and the admonition that members look out for their election ballots in order to vote in the upcoming election.”
The election committee stated that the alleged violation might have been cured if KTLA had merely supplied “equal access” to members of Drescher’s Unite for Strength slate, however because the committee famous, KTLA “flatly denied a request to provide candidates from the UFS slate an equal opportunity to appear on air,” despite the fact that Rubin had prefaced his interview with Fisher by saying that “candidates from both groups are very much welcome on our show here.”
Had KTLA agreed to grant equal time, the problem would have been resolved. The election committee, noting that “KTLA is an employer of SAG-AFTRA members,” stated that whereas federal labor regulation prohibits employers from contributing something of worth to assist the candidacy of any particular person in a union election, “where remedial actions are taken to neutralize disparate treatment by an employer, there is no outcome-determinative violation.”
On August 5, the day after Rubin’s interview with Fisher aired, Unite for Strength legal professional Bob Giolito requested equal time for Unite for Strength candidates to forestall a violation of federal election regulation and “an extremely costly and time-consuming re-run election.” KTLA’s Geoff Gilbert responded that same day, telling Giolito: “Thank you again for bringing your client’s concerns to KTLA’s attention. KTLA is in the process of performing a thorough investigation into these concerns. At this time, however, KTLA is not inclined to provide your client with ‘equal air time’ inasmuch as assuming, for the sake of argument only, that the analysis set forth in your August 5, 2021 correspondence is accurate, doing so would constitute an intentional violation of the law. Please call me if you have any questions and best of luck to your client in the election.”
Modine had no say in whether or not or not KTLA would offer equal time to his rivals, and the election committee by no means stated that he or MembershipFirst needed to do something to treatment the scenario.
In its conclusion, the committee stated that “As KTLA has on multiple occasions provided significant promotional time to MF candidates, we strongly encourage KTLA, by no later than August 24, 2021, to provide an equal opportunity to three candidates from the UFS slate to appear on a program under the same terms and conditions as the MF candidates. KTLA should allot the same amount of time at the same time of day, provide a neutral interviewer who is not a candidate for office, and display the candidates’ pictures, the UFS web address, and the UFS logo with the same prominence and in the same manner that the MF candidates’ pictures, the MF web address and the MF logo were displayed. The program should be advertised in the same manner the Fisher interview was advertised. We would also strongly encourage KTLA to post a statement during this program and on its website expressly stating that KTLA is providing equal access to UFS candidates in order to cure a prior federal labor law violation and that KTLA does not and will not promote any candidate in the SAG-AFTRA election. If KTLA fails to provide equal access and to issue a statement, we will have to determine whether this violation was outcome determinative in the election once the ballots are counted.”
After Modine threatened to sue Drescher, her Unite for Strength issued a press release. “Here we go again. Every time Membership First doesn’t like the outcome of a democratic process they stoop to yet another frivolous lawsuit. Just as they have already cost SAG-AFTRA members over $2 million in failed lawsuit after failed lawsuit. Sadly, this is the second campaign in a row that Matthew Modine’s Membership First has flouted national election law. Litigiousness is not leadership. Members deserve leaders with vision, not vitriol. It takes a lot of gall to talk about kindness, and then turn around and attempt to bully people with lawsuits.”