In 2014, WBEN’s Tom Bauerle made it into the Buffalo News because of a neighborhood disturbance that led to police intervention. At the time, I wrote two pieces (here and here) explaining that I didn’t find the matter especially newsworthy. While Bauerle is a public figure, that doesn’t automatically make everything about him public. There was no arrest, no one swore out a complaint, and the neighbors didn’t seek any sort of protective order or nuisance injunction. I argued at the time that there was little public interest outside, perhaps, a mention in the Amherst Bee‘s police blotter.
Practically every journalist and blogger disagreed with me—often strenuously. But if any other commentator or journalist had an episode that resulted in a psych evaluation, how is that information regionally newsworthy, if not primarily a massive violation of HIPAA or FOIL privacy rules? When the News followed up on the story, it had moved from Sunday’s A1 to “Life & Arts.” I wrote:
It didn’t take long for this Page Six gossip column to be relegated to the section where you’ll find the Golden Globes, a psychic, the Buzz, and a plan for an art barge on the Erie Canal. It would seem that the information the News obtained from two unnamed police sources was likely an improper release of private personal information, and cannot be corroborated.
Just because you don’t like Tom Bauerle isn’t justification for his intimate medical details to be printed in the Buffalo News.
After that 2014 episode, I have no idea what happened. I don’t know if Bauerle undertook any sort of legal action against the News or the Amherst cops or anyone else. The details from the News‘ article led to howls of derisive laughter at Bauerle for believing he was being spied on by invisible men in trees who have magical shoes that don’t leave footprints in the snow. It’s funny stuff, but I’m not always so sure it’s that funny.
Earlier this week, I was alerted to this article that Bauerle wrote for the Canada Free Press, a site replete with conspiracy theories masquerading as “news,” not dissimilar from WND and Infowars. (Query whether Entercom is thrilled with its talent publishing content to other sites.) The article is one-third a regurgitation of a previous article published about Bauerle, regarding his explanation about the backyard neighborhood spying, one-third a weak legal threat that he’ll sue if you mock him, and one-third an effort to link what he believes happened to him in his backyard to the “deep state” intelligence community’s fisticuffs against Donald Trump. Its premise reads like a Sesame Street/Black Mirror crossover episode.
To a large degree, the article isn’t so much about cloaking technologies, spying, or the president as much as it is about Tom Bauerle.
It begins with Bauerle establishing his pro-Trump bona fides; he had Trump on his show, Trump invited him to the Buffalo rally, Trump was looking for Bauerle to “hang out” with him. He mentions that his radio show is popular, and that he is putting his job at risk by publishing the article. Trump came on myriad right-wing talk shows in the run-up to the New York primary, and none of this is especially interesting, except insofar as it attempts to thrust Bauerle into Trump’s orbit.
The article then pivots Donald Trump’s Tweets accusing the Obama administration of “wire tapping” him. Bauerle offers empathy, adding, “President Trump, have your aides briefed you on real-life invisibility technology?” and, “[h]ave your people briefed you on non-linear optics and adaptive camouflage?” This is the subject-matter of this article, whereby Bauerle expounded on what he believes was happening in his backyard that led to the incident about which the Buffalo News wrote in 2014.
Bauerle goes on to cite unvetted, uncorroborated claims that national alt-right talk radio hosts Michael Savage, Alex Jones, and Sean Hannity have made about supposedly being surveilled. As if the government has the intent or resources to spend huge sums of money to randomly surveil right-wing talk radio dummies using invisibility cloaks. Somehow it’s good right-wing talk marketing to convince your audience of your victimhood.
As the article proceeds into its sub-headings, it bears mentioning that we don’t yet know what facts or allegations underpin the central theme of the article. We’ve established that Bauerle believes that he was the subject of high-tech surveillance, that other talk radio hosts think they were also spied upon, and that Bauerle likes Trump, and vice-versa. That’s it.
Under the first sub-heading, “Team Bauerle” broadly regurgitates the claims that Bauerle made about the goings-on around his house in 2014. The second, “Tom Bauerle: Radio’s True Patriot,” recounts Bauerle’s claims to have been the victim of a butt-dial from some DNC staffer, and later by someone from a military contractor. According to this series of February Tweets, however, a woman claiming to be Bauerle’s son’s ex-girlfriend avers it was all a prank (read bottom to top).
According to Fries, Bauerle’s son found the phone number through Wikileaks and prank-called it. The person then called back, and voila— one of Bauerle’s loved ones has an unexplained incoming call from a 215 area code listed in the Wikileaks DNC email dump. I reached out to Fries via Twitter, but have not heard back. I cannot vet the truth or falsity of what she wrote, only report that she wrote it.
UPDATE: Mr. Bauerle’s son contacted me via Facebook Messenger to tell me that, “I would just like you to know that your source is false, I just wanted to let you know because not only does it make you look bad when you use fake sources from an x-girlfriend, but it makes journalism look bad. Just wanted you to know so that it doesn’t blow up in your face down the road.”
Bauerle then offers up a photograph of some backyard foliage and alleges that he invented a way to detect people hiding in it, adding, “and I’ve never even taken a physics class.” One could conclude this, from that “evidence.” It shows nothing. For $300, anyone can buy a FLIR thermal imaging add-on for their iPhone or Android device. Presumably, if there were people in the trees, cloaked or not, they would emit heat that one could pick up on the FLIR device.
What is also unclear is – why? Why would the agents of an out-of-office president care to spend big bucks using sci-fi technology to spy on the guy who is number 63 on the Talkers Heavy Hundred list? The “Monsters” out of Orlando are number 62; wouldn’t they be a slightly more compelling target?
We move on to subheader “Persistence,” wherein Bauerle finally connects the dots from what he thinks transpired in his foliage to the President.
Mr. President, I now believe there is a high probability that those engaged in the harassment of me and several loved ones and friends are operatives of the Shadow Government trying to bring you and your presidency down.
The reason I asked CFP to report on what I reasonably believed was a settlement that would be honored with those responsible for the illegal surveillance?
In 2014, when all of this came up in the first place, Bauerle believed that he was the target of surveillance by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Now it’s the “Shadow Government.” At what point did these people move on from state positions to ones with the federal government? To and from what agency? Who are the individuals leading this state and federal effort to “harass” one half of an afternoon drive talk radio show? How large must the budget be for the state and federal shadow authorities to maintain this surveillance and harassment of Bauerle? None of these logical questions are addressed.
The settlements to which he is referring are somewhat broadly mentioned as follows in the earlier article:
In late Spring 2016, Bauerle reached settlements with the people behind the long-term research operation around his home, and we have the legal documents that prove Bauerle deserves an apology from the Buffalo News, and bloggers who accused him of having a ‘psychotic episode’.
I am that blogger. Laughably enough, I threw out the “psychotic episode” quip to defend him against improper publication of private medical information. I have no idea whether or not he had a psychotic episode, nor do I know whether he was taken in for psychiatric observation, as the Buffalo News reported. (He has since acknowledged that he was.) So, to that end, I apologize for suggesting that he had a “psychotic episode” as defined in medical literature; I should have prefaced it with “alleged” or “apparent.” But that’s not based on any settlement he may have executed with anyone; I haven’t been shown any legal document to establish anything at all. What I know is that Bauerle believes that first Andrew Cuomo and now, apparently, Barack Obama and the “Shadow Government” or “deep state” used secret, advanced technology to surveil him, undetected, on and around his property, and that this also might be happening to the current president. I do not believe any of that to be likely.
The next section is titled “Butt-dial mystery call from ‘April Melody.'” This recounts the perhaps debunked allegation that one of Bauerle’s family members received a silent butt dial from a DNC staffer during the Philadelphia convention. Bauerle is suspicious of this call, which a woman saying she’s Bauerle’s son’s ex says was all a prank:
I do not trust the Clintons or the Obama Mob, and I wanted that call and my story on the public record, lest I have a sudden heart-attack induced by hacking my ICD, or a lightning strike, or have my vehicle suddenly accelerate and crash.
If the “deep state” really wanted a Buffalo talk show host dead, couldn’t they easily have accomplished that by now, using wholly conventional means? Why would they go to the trouble of hacking his pacemaker or directing at him a “lightning strike”? Bauerle then takes that mysterious butt-dial, and his subsequent fears and concludes,
President Trump, I have tried reaching out to you through mutual friends, but I have recently realized that even you may not know about the surveillance techniques under development right now, because no one from the White House ever got back to me.
One of your closest aides had no idea of my situation when it was brought to his attention.
I am concerned about you and believe it a strong possibility that you are being kept in the dark by Obama holdovers at the FBI, NSA and CIA because they WANT you to look like a paranoid lunatic.
Has anyone in our government advised you not to upset the intelligence apparatus, Mr. President?
I believe we are not just talking about the Obama “progressives” currently employed in intel, but those who may be doing private contract work after leaving the service.
I have decided to release these photos,with many more to come, complete with instructions on how to defeat these technologies, to help keep you safe.
If, as Commander in Chief, you request I not release additional photos and videos of this technology in action, I will obey, Sir.
Isn’t it odd how many of your PRIVATE conversations were leaked to certain people?
With all of the leaks from your “inner circle”, there is something rotten going on.
The President of the United States is protected by the Secret Service, an organization boasting intelligence and technological capabilities that average Americans likely can’t begin to comprehend. In his article Mr. Bauerle includes an image of a box of candy from Barack Obama’s Air Force One to establish the truth of conversations he held with a Secret Service agent who purportedly confirmed Mr. Bauerle’s fears about the extent of the surveillance against him. Yet, at the heart of Mr. Bauerle’s premise is that the people employed to protect and defend the President don’t know what they’re doing – they need a radio host in Buffalo to tell them how to do their jobs. I believe this to be, at best, wildly presumptuous. If the President had telephone conversations with people who were under surveillance – whether by FISA warrant or because they were members of foreign intelligence services – then those intercepts are perfectly legal. There are, indeed, lots of leaks coming out of the Trump White House. It’s no secret who the leakers are.
The next subheading is “President Trump, The Swamp is a bitter enemy and they will do anything to drain you.”
But seriously, Mr. Bauerle goes on to explain,
I have concluded the people who have illegally surveilled me (and loved ones) since at least 2013 and who continue to do so, hacked my electronics as well as those of my loved ones and friends (like former White House Travel Chef Tracy Martin, whose phone was hacked and had his home broken into days after appearing on my show to confirm that the real Hillary Clinton has no use for our black brothers and sisters and frequently uses the “N”-Word.) are most likely Deep State people and those who simply cannot accept the fact that you beat The Swamp’s choice. (See: Tom Bauerle: Can Satellites Reprogram Voting Machines?, and DNC intimidation of Tom Bauerle loved ones exposed by Wikileaks)
He goes on to say that he expects to be remunerated for the harassment, including the multiple times his home has allegedly been broken into. Then, this open letter to the President goes here:
And I will be litigating against ALL involved.
We should be talking about a MAJOR amount of compensatory and punitive damages here.
I believe the only reason I am alive is because of Team Bauerle and the info we gathered on them and their operation which dates at least back to 2013.
Well, the statute of limitations is probably three years, so tick-tock.
In “Strange Coincidences”, Mr. Bauerle repeats his earlier allegations by asking questions about supposed coincidences. There are the butt-dials again, license plates he sees in the neighborhood, and a Rottweiler whom he didn’t recognize at his front door. It is at this point that we begin the third of the article that reads as a legal threat.
You would do quite well to refer to the statement by Dr. Marshall (Canada Free Press) attesting to my sound mental health. Mr. Bauerle “does not need psychotropic medication.”
My attorneys and I will vigorously pursue any unfair injury to my brand which may arise from false accusations that I have “delusions” or any such mental health issues.
I do not, and never have.
You’re on notice: you’d best think twice before you call my “sanity” into question, and you may wish to reflect on the multiple corroborations of my claims by private citizens and the inventor of the technology, the above mentioned Richard Schowengerdt, who confirmed the photo below as “proof beyond any doubt” that I was correct about being under high tech surveillance.
I believe in the First Amendment, but I will not allow my reputation to be unfairly slandered or libelled and will be aggressive in pursuing any such damage to my brand.
You are put on notice: while I am a public person, and slander and libel claims have to meet a higher threshold to be actionable, my attorneys and I will have a keen eye on media outlets and their reporting on this, and will vigorously pursue any hint that I am “mentally ill” or delusional.
I mean, I guess consider yourselves on notice? For something billed as an open letter to Donald Trump, it sure seems odd to – in that letter – start threatening to sue anyone who calls you crazy. Like, why would Mr. Trump care?
Dr. Marshall did, in fact, execute a letter to Mr. Bauerle’s attorneys as part of the effort to get his firearms returned, indicating that he didn’t pose a threat to himself or anyone else, and that he didn’t need “psychotropic medications”. These are the medications most typically prescribed to people suffering from disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, etc. Here’s the thing, though, about “mentally ill” and “insane”; while I personally don’t think it’s wise to throw those terms around, they can be expressions of people’s opinion and not actionable at all. This isn’t legal advice, but if a casual reader of Mr. Bauerle’s Canada Free Press article about cloaking and surveillance concluded that it’s “crazy” and that anyone believing such a thing is, “insane”, that could be a legally valid expression of opinion and not at all actionable. Because he is a public figure thrusting all of this into the marketplace of ideas, the First Amendment bumps violently into Mr. Bauerle’s oddly placed threats. On the other hand, if I were to make a statement of fact, and allege that Mr. Bauerle was under psychiatric care, or had been diagnosed with a particular ailment, etc., that would be different. No such evidence exists. Under New York law, if your opinion relies on accurate reported facts, it’s not actionable as long as it is clearly opinion and does not allege criminal or illegal activity.
I don’t know whether Mr. Bauerle’s story about surveillance and cloaking is true or accurate, but I do think that what he is alleging happened in and around his property is extremely unlikely, and that any extrapolation of that experience to White House leaks or the intelligence community’s disdain for the President is not supported by facts or evidence.
In other words, although I think it’s bullshit, I can’t conclude whether his sincere belief in that bullshit is, e.g., delusional.
This thread continues into the next heading, “The personal safety of truth-tellers is left hanging perilously in the balance.” Here is the text of that section:
I am not an attorney, but you would be well-advised to speak with your legal counsel about the “reckless disregard for the facts” standard and ask yourself “If a jury sees these pictures, the unambiguous corroboration from the man who invented cloaking technology they show , the statement from Dr. Marshall attesting to my sound mental health, what would the preponderance of evidence suggest? That I have mental issues, or that I am and have been telling the truth.” So as much as it may pain you, I am very aware of the law in this regard.
Again, isn’t this a letter to Donald Trump? Then why is he using the second person to address bloggers and the media? So, let’s back up a second. Bauerle is a public figure, and this is a Sullivan v. NY Times / Gertz v. Robert Welch issue. If someone publishes a false statement of fact about a public figure, he can be liable for defamation if the publication was made with “actual malice”. Within the context of defamation jurisprudence, that doesn’t mean “hatred”, but that the author either knew the statement was false, or acted with “reckless disregard to the truth or falsity” of the statement. In New York, if the paper accurately publishes an article about a private person who has been convicted of stealing from his employer, you are protected from liability if you say or write that this person is an embezzler – it is both privileged opinion, as well as fact.
And I just need 51% proof, even though it is my opinion as a layman I can exceed “reasonable doubt” in any claim.
Choose your words very, very carefully when describing my claims.
I don’t know whom he’s threatening here. You don’t need “51% proof”, you need to convince a jury that you were defamed by a preponderance of the evidence, which is typically described as being anything in excess of 50%, although evidence can’t really be quantified in the way in which Mr. Bauerle suggests. Credibility counts for a lot with juries.
I’ll be happy to undergo a polygraph.
To the extent a polygraph measures anything at all, it measures whether a person believes what he’s saying to be true. It’s not typically admissible in court, as it is not reliable evidence.
And any ad hominem attack regarding my mental health will be dealt with appropriately.
That isn’t a threat.
It is a promise, and I’m doing you a favor in advance.
It all depends on the context within which someone, for instance, calls someone “crazy”. Again, a lot of verbiage being spent in a letter to Donald Trump to warn random third persons not to insult Mr. Bauerle’s sanity. It’s like Otto in “A Fish Called Wanda” admonishing everyone to not call him “stupid“.
I did not and will not pursue any action against the Amherst Police Department, because I respect law enforcement, and as I have stated, at that time I was making claims without substantiation. In their shoes, I also would have wanted a psych-eval.
You members of the media and bloggers will receive no quarter at all from me should you recklessly disregard the facts of my case. Not just corporations, but individual reporters and bloggers’ work will be scrutinized carefully for any damage done unfairly to my “brand” and future income potential
Not for nothing, but what about this constant drumbeat of conspiratorial articles in Canada Free Press? How does one quantify the damage to your “brand” that is brought about by publishing this somewhat nonsensical, illogical “open letter”? It’s not like the Canada Free Press is a trustworthy, objective, or reasonable publication. The events of 2014 aren’t anything anyone wants to talk about, except you. How can we forget it if you keep bringing it up?
Meanwhile, here’s the thing: The personal safety of truth-tellers is left hanging perilously in the balance.
If they can do this to the duly elected President of the United States, what’s to stop them from doing it to the rest of us.
The entire article can be summed up as follows:
1. I believe that bad people surveilled me in and around my home with sci-fi capabilities;
2. They could – and might – do this to the President;
3. There is nothing, however, to conclude that sci-fi surveillance of the President is, actually, taking place; and
4. Don’t call me crazy, or I’ll sue you to kingdom come.
I don’t get the point of any of it. Most every American wants the President to be kept safe, regardless of who it is or what party he’s from. (Well, to be fair, Mr. Bauerle didn’t have a problem, however, posting things like this about the previous occupant of the White House):
I don’t understand people sometimes.
Editor’s note: Because of the discussion of mental illness in this article, we’d like to include the Crisis Services emergency hotline: 716-834-3131.