The ongoing controversy over the Twitter account of an Entercom-owned radio station in New Orleans directing a homophobic slur at their own weeknight sports radio host took an unexpected turn Thursday. WWL-AM leadership reportedly told New Orleans police that they suspect the host, Seth Dunlap, of accessing the station’s Twitter account and tweeting the slur at himself.
This news comes via the New Orleans Advocate/Times-Picayune, which got ahold of the police report made when WWL and its parent company, Entercom, made the decision Tuesday to put the investigation of the matter “in the hands of law enforcement.” WWL says the “external digital forensics firm” hired for the case determined that the offending tweet was sent from an IP address associated with Dunlap’s cell phone. The police report does not elaborate on how or whether WWL has supported that allegation; according to a report from Big Easy Magazine, the police report concludes with a note that the responding officer “had yet to receive any documents from the Entercom New Orleans legal team regarding this incident.”
The rest of WWL’s case appears to include details of Dunlap’s personal financial situation, and reportedly attempts to mine significance from the condition of the door to Dunlap’s office during the time when the tweet was sent. Dunlap’s lawyer, Megan Kiefer, circulated a statement Thursday describing WWL’s accusations as “false, defamatory, and self-serving,” and rebuts the most significant evidence in WWL’s accusation by reiterating that Dunlap had neither access to nor the password for WWL’s official Twitter account. It also, somewhat dishearteningly, continues to advance the results of a “voluntary polygraph test” as proof that Dunlap was not involved in the sending of the tweet.
It’s worth pointing out that whatever dubious value the polygraph stunt might’ve had as a prompt to get Entercom to take its investigation more seriously, or share their findings with Dunlap and his legal representation, as a defense against official accusations allegedly supported by digital evidence, the results of a polygraph test—which, by the way, are rarely admissible in court—are even less valuable. That is in no way meant to suggest that WWL’s accusations are especially credible, or that Dunlap looks any guiltier today than he did yesterday. If anything, the vague bits of evidence being advanced by both sides of this conflict demonstrate just how far this situation could be from resolution. Right now all anyone can say for sure is that the tweet was sent.
Dunlap and Kiefer reportedly met with WWL Senior Vice President Kevin Cassidy and Entercom lawyers on Tuesday, where they discussed a letter sent by Dunlap and his legal team demanding $1.85 million in compensation, a number reportedly confirmed by Kiefer. Kiefer, in her statement distributed to media Thursday, says it was Entercom who approached Dunlap to discuss a settlement, and says the station’s delegation even assured Dunlap that he’d been cleared as a possible source of the tweet, before reversing course and ambushing him with accusations of extortion:
The meeting was attended by Entercom counsel and its corporate lawyers. On September 24, Entercom interviewed Mr. Dunlap for over an hour before unethically, improperly, and illegally accusing him of extortion in order to scare him into accepting little to no compensation for the company’s actions. Incredibly, only after those settlement discussions broke down did Entercom refer this matter to the NOPD, which speaks volumes relative to their intentions.
Police are reportedly “still working to corroborate the station’s allegations,” according to the Advocate report. This situation appears to be getting messier by the day. If you know anything about this case specifically or the general culture at WWL-AM, get in touch here.