Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter, who made international headlines after threatening a local news reporter with a lawsuit over using his name in articles "without authorization," apologized Wednesday for his comments.
The councilman drew a scathing editorial from The Frederick News-Post after he wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that he "did not authorize any use of my name or reference" in an article by reporter Bethany Rodgers, and he added: "Use my name again unauthorized and you'll be paying for an attorney."
After national outlets picked up the story and #kirbydelauter trended on Twitter, Delauter walked back his words in a statement, chalking them up to frustration at being "misrepresented or misinterpreted."
"The first amendment is alive and well in Frederick County," he wrote. "As a public figure working to maintain and improve the county, it can be very frustrating to feel misrepresented or misinterpreted by a local media outlet.
"Over my career I have fired off my fair share of angry e-mails, which in hindsight I wish I hadn't. I can't think of one that had a positive effect. Usually, they only served to escalate the conflict. I thought I had long ago learned the lesson of waiting 24 hours before I hit the send key, but apparently I didn't learn that lesson as well as I should have.
"Of course, as I am an elected official, the Frederick News-Post has the right to use my name in any article related to the running of the county — that comes with the job. So yes, my statement to the Frederick News-Post regarding the use of my name was wrong and inappropriate. I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong.
"I got elected to serve all the citizens of northern Frederick County, Democrats as well as Republicans. I look forward to the local papers covering my effort in that regard."
News-Post managing editor Terry Headlee said the paper accepts Delauter's explanation.
"We're going to move on," he said. "We're glad he finally saw the light."
Headlee said he was "shocked" at how quickly the story went viral internationally. Along with several local and national U.S. publications, it received coverage from outlets in Canada, Germany and Australia. The paper's editorial, which mocked the councilman's demands — headlined "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter" and using his name dozens of times throughout — had roughly 500,000 views online, he said.
"Based on the reader reaction we'd been seeing, it was clear this wasn't going away," Headlee said. "It just shows you the power of social media."