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Liz Mair joins us to discuss Nunes, his cow, & how the lawsuit has created an internet backlash drawing more attention to parody accounts.

Paul Matzko
Tech & Innovation Editor

Will Duffield is a research assistant at Cato’s First Amendment Project.

Liz Mair is the owner, founder and President of Mair Strategies LLC and the US’ leading right‐​of‐​center online communications operative. She principally writes about politics, with additional commentary on sports, travel and other assorted topics.

A recovering private equity/​debt finance lawyer, Liz has an MA in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and a Certificate in Political and Social Sciences from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). She studied law at the College of Law in London and practiced at Macfarlanes LLP.

A libertarian Republican and Arsenal FC fan, Liz served as Online Communications Director at the Republican National Committee during 2008, where she led an aggressive and groundbreaking online media outreach effort aimed at electing John McCain, Sarah Palin and Republicans across the US. In this capacity, she also served as a spokesperson, undertaking on‐​camera interviews and debates on behalf of the RNC and the campaign against representatives of the Obama campaign and the DNC.

Liz has advised Sen. Rand Paul on outreach to tech and conservative online media, particularly during 2013 when the Senator’s influence and imprint on the GOP was steadily increasing. She also conducted communications and opposition research services that enabled the decisive re‐​election of Sen. Roy Blunt in 2016.

Devin Nunes is a US Congressman and former dairy farmer from California. Imagine his surprise when a member of his cow herd started a twitter account that focused on Nunes’s failings as a politician. That account was quickly joined by several other parody accounts, including one purporting to be his mother. Nunes responded by filing multiple lawsuits against the offending accounts, against Twitter, and against lobbyist Liz Mair, claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Yet the courts have typically protected parody and satire under the First Amendment to the US Constitution, giving the lawsuits little chance of winning in court. But Nunes filed the claims in Virginia, a state with few penalties for frivolous lawsuits, meaning that even in failure Nunes’s lawsuits may still intimidate his critics and tie them up in a long, expensive legal battle. Liz Mair joins Paul and Will to discuss Nunes, his cow, and how the lawsuit has created an internet backlash drawing even more attention to the parody accounts than before.

Who is Devin Nunes and why is he upset? Why is he suing Twitter, Liz Mair, other parties? What did Liz Mair do? What is the Streisand effect? What is an anti‐​SLAP law? What are the biggest changes to communication in the political world due to technological advances and social media?

Further Reading:

The Federalist No. 76, written by Alexander Hamilton

Will EU Copyright Break the Internet?, Building Tomorrow Podcast

Free Speech Online, Free Thoughts Podcast