Yesterday I explained how misguided the New York Daily News was in painting A-Rod as a “deadbeat” for still having an outstanding balance on his legal bills. I explained how legal billing works and how unusual it is for anyone — person or corporation — to have settled a multi-million dollar legal bill scarcely a month after the representation ended. Indeed, I noted how that can be reckless as prudent clients are well-served to review their legal bills and negotiate them downward. Lawyers can, even unwittingly, overcharge for services, after all.
Yesterday Jon Heyman did the Daily News one better: he says that A-Rod not only hasn’t paid his entire bill yet. He says he has refused to do so:
A-Rod has refused to pay a large part of his legal bill, sources said, confirming a report in the New York Daily News.
Those sources estimate that he has refused to pay about $3 million out of an estimated $5 million or more in legal fees. Those sources further say he has refused to even return phone calls on the matter, making it clear he has no interest in paying.
Again: I have no reason to dispute the idea that A-Rod hasn’t paid his entire legal bill. I’m sure he hasn’t. And if he is, indeed, “refusing” to do so, it would be totally consistent with what one often sees after a contentious and, in many ways, unsuccessful representation. A hard negotiation over fees, with said “refusal” being no different than a baseball player refusing to negotiate a contract extension after opening day. You see this from clients — even well-heeled ones — all the time. If Heyman had bothered to ask a lawyer about it he’d know that.
But Heyman is more interested in using this isolated and frankly uninteresting little factoid as a springboard for, once again, rehashing all of the reasons A-Rod is to be loathed. The very headline of his article calls his legal bill “the latest in a series of bad acts.” And he spends paragraph after paragraph lambasting Rodriguez for all of his past misdeeds as if they were news and as if the legal fee thing was in keeping with them on a moral and ethical level. It’s the ultimate exercise in attack journalism, built on a falsehood held out of ignorance, willful or otherwise, about the underlying facts of the situation.
No one in the media particularly likes Alex Rodriguez and I understand that. But the overheated efforts some take to shred him, and the eagerness they have to do it, is baffling to me and, frankly, pathetic.