The Gibson’s Bakery massive verdict against Oberlin College has sparked incredible reader excitement, and brought many new readers to Legal Insurrection.

I’ve spent the last week trying to absorb what is happening. The reactions to the compensatory and punitive damage verdicts remind me of only a few times in Legal Insurrection’s almost 11-year history.

There was the Republican recapture of the House in 2010 and Trump victory of 2016 that captured reader lightning in a bottle. But those were more national phenomena, and Legal Insurrection was not at the center of it.

Certainly the excitement also reminds me of Scott Walker’s Recall victory in June 2012, when we lit fireworks and music for the first time. It was Oh what a night:

What a night last night was….

Almost 20,000 people viewed the live feed during the 4 hours it was live.

I hope everyone enjoyed the fireworks display and music. We had fireworks firing off and exploding over the blog posts and music playing in the background, including John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Lee Greenwood singing God Bless The USA, and Kate Smith singing God Bless America.

We were more involved in covering the Recall fight, with exhaustive coverage of Wisconsin’s long, strange trip, but we were not at the center of it.

Perhaps our coverage of the Zimmerman trial comes closer, where Andrew Branca’s live trial coverage became the go-to place, earning us attention, new readers, and much praise, including from Don West. But again, the Zimmerman case was the focus of national media attention, to a fault.

In thinking through all the possibilities, I’d say the Gibson’s Bakery case came closest to Scott Brown’s January 2010 victory over Martha Coakely in the Massachusetts Senate primary. At that time, this was a solo blog on Google Blogger. Simpler times. We wouldn’t get a second author until the following November.

It was just me pounding the keyboard alone among the blogosphere trying to get attention to what was happening, that I was seeing things on the ground in Massachusetts that told me Brown was surging. On December 9, 2009, I told people to Watch Massachusetts Senate Race.

In late December 2009, we turned the website “All Scott Brown all the time.” Legal Insurrection readers saw things unfold long before the mainstream media and political world caught on.

By the time the polls revealed in January that Brown was behind only by single digits, we were the go-to place, and the readership was ecstatic. When he won, I called it What A Day:

Yesterday was an amazing day, and not just because Scott Brown won (although that helped).

Yesterday was the first “live” blogging event here. 21,432 people participated in the live event, generating 5,402 reader comments. There were almost 70,000 visits to the site, which used to be a pretty good month.

The energy was tremendous…. When we signed off just after 11 p.m., we still had almost 900 people on the feed. Here are some of the reactions to Brown’s win earlier in the night….

The Brown victory was special because we were there first. We were covering a race everyone else had written off. We were sounding the siren, and Legal Insurrection readers were far ahead of the rest of the country in seeing what was happening. It was, in many ways, our finest hour.

The Gibson’s Bakery verdict may be another of our finest hours. It wasn’t me alone, and this is a more complicated place than it used to be.

But again, we were ahead of the curve, following the case starting with the initial protests, and then through the pretrial proceedings when most of the media had moved on. Our trial coverage, with Daniel McGraw inside the courtroom, reminded me of our Scott Brown coverage — on the ground reporting far outpacing the national media.

Once again, Legal Insurrection readers were far ahead of the rest of the world. When the $11 million compensatory verdict broke, the rest of the media expressed shock. But we knew that at least a big verdict was a strong possibility, we understood what the jury heard, and we knew something was happening there, even if what it was wasn’t exactly clear.

Even after the compensatory verdict, the national media didn’t pay a lot of attention. But we did, and you did. Reader interest and new readership grew, particularly after my Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.

When the punitive verdict came down we were the place to go, and we’ve been linked to hundreds of times. Our Punitive Damage Verdict post has been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, and we are widely linked and credited by other outlets finally getting to the story.

The victory of the ordinary men and women of Gibson’s Bakery over the smug, dismissive, arrogant higher ed bureaucrats and their social justice warrior troops is a large part of the reader reaction. It was the deplorables prevailing, once again, and I don’t mean that politically.

It will be months, maybe years, before we know if the verdicts hold up, and if the Gibsons get paid. Regardless, I’ll still view our Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College coverage as one of our finest hours, maybe our finest.

[Featured Image: Allyn W. Gibson at trial][Photo credit Bob Perkoski for Legal Insurrection Foundation]

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