Matthew Chan Response to “Reality Steve” Lawsuit Update & Link Referral Explosion

This article is Part 3 of ongoing coverage of the Reality Steve Extortion Lawsuit.

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I almost don’t know how to start this post because I am still a bit dizzy by the many thousands of people who have read my article: “Bachelor” TV Producers Extortion Lawsuit Against “Reality Steve”.  I said I was going to write a 3rd article on what I consider to be a proposed action plan if I were in Steve’s shoes. Unfortunately, this is not that article because I need time to process what has happened today and all the reader comments regarding “Reality Steve” Lawsuit Update and his link referral to my article.

Starting out, I want to thank Carbone for his kind words about me and my article and linking to it. I was a bit stunned to find out he would do this. I know he is amazed by the time and effort I put into the article but that is because he doesn’t know me.  Some people who know me consider me a “freak show” because I do things that don’t make sense to most people. But that is ok because in a short 12-hour window, 10,000 people read that article based on an impulse decision Sunday night and I have not yet gotten spanked or a bruising online. (Thank you for that.)

Enough of basking in the sunshine. Let’s get to work to the issues of this article.

There have been many vocal supporters for “Reality Steve” but there have been a disturbing number of detractors and “not so nice” comments as well. At the risk of being attacked or being bombed myself, I want to share some thoughts that I hope you will consider.

Without getting too much into my personal and professional history, let me say that I very much relate to Carbone’s position as a blogger/website owner.  I have been harassed and threatened by lawyers with false DMCA takedown notices and warning letters from so-called knowledgeable lawyers representing much larger opponents than myself.  I have been accused of defamation, libel, slander, copyright infringement, and trademark infringement in my online writings. But none of it ever panned out because when push came to shove, there was no case and I have, fortunately, not yet been sued for anything Internet speech-related. But let me assure you, the ongoing concern and threat is very real. You never know when someone is going to send you a legal notice. Can you imagine always having to watch what you post and what you say all the time? That is what happens when you take center stage on a high-profile website.

There is a fine line of exercising the liberty and the freedom to free speech vs. risking incurring the wrath of some large corporate entity which often happens when you decide to write, quote, comment, editorialize, and satirize about them. It gets their noses bent in a joint. Carbone apparently has been relentlessly mocking and simply too accurate for his own good with his ongoing reporting.

Many “Reality Steve” readers seem to be upset and outraged with Carbone’s online persona that comes across as brash, bold, self-congratulatory, arrogant, condescending, rude, insulting, ugly, dismissive, etc.  But from what I can tell of Carbone’s history of online writings, he has ALWAYS been that way.  In fact, he self-describes his blog with a big web banner on his home page as “slanted, sophomoric, and skewed view”. Is it truly a surprise and outrage if he adopts and lives up to his advertised online persona?  So many people criticize Howard Stern for his outrageousness yet millions of people still tune in. Why do Reality Steve haters keep coming back for more “punishment”?

Interestingly, if you watch any of his videos, Carbone comes across very differently. I have only watched two of his videos: the one with his mother and the episode before that. Steve is no Howard Stern.  He doesn’t even live up to the “arrogant sophomoric” persona of “Reality Steve”. Sure, you will see Carbone roll his eyes, get irritable, dismissive, and other minor displays of his online persona. But it comes NOWHERE close to how he writes.  Why is that?

Because “Reality Steve” is NOT “Real Steve”. Pay attention to the fact he seems to loves Maddie (his dog), keeps a clean organized apartment/house, has a great and fun relationship with his mother, frets about being dateless and the challenges of looking for an ideal woman to get along with, and the fact he is much more subdued on-camera. I would say that the humanity and “normalness” within Carbone comes through, much more so than his online persona. If I were to criticize Carbone, I would say that he is NOT living up to his website billing.

I find it interesting that Carbone is now being criticized for being humble and polite for asking for help. I think he would have been criticized either way. It is true that Carbone ultimately takes responsibility for what happens but there comes a time in life, especially when facing down the barrel of a $75,000 lawsuit from a deep-pocketed opponent, you need to swallow your pride and openly ask for help. I am glad he did this on behalf of himself and all other bloggers that would get bullied by another deep-pocketed media company.

Carbone is being accused of asking for help. But has anyone ever seen or paid a big lawyer bill?  I have and it isn’t fun. It is even less fun when you have to make monthly payments because you can’t afford to pay the entire bill in one sitting like a utility bill.  Where I live, lawyer rates are around $200-$250/hour. My lawyer friend in New York charges $400-$450/hour.  I speculate that Carbone is paying his California lawyer between $350-$400/hour.

I have looked at the docket of legal activity so far.  Without any information from Carbone or his lawyer, I am quite certain he has racked up at least 10 hours by now, probably more. If not, he will hit that very soon.  Let’s do the math here. Assuming the “low rate” of $350/hour, he has incurred around $3,500 with very little to show for except the ongoing stress.

I have no idea what Paypal contributions are coming in but I find it difficult to believe that Carbone’s average Paypal contribution is more than $10/person. It would take 350 people to contribute at an average of $10/contribution.  Let’s double that to an average $20/contribution.  He would have to get at least 175 contributions. Even at an average $50/contribution (which is far-fetched), it would take 70 contributions to pay that ”small” legal bill (up to this point)!

Carbone states on his Twitter feed that he is “overwhelmed by donations so far”. I suspect he is overwhelmed by the actual number of people, more than the actual size and dollar amounts of the donations. Each time someone makes a Paypal Contribution, Carbone gets an email. For all of Carbone’s online bluster, if you read between the lines, asking for help is not something he does well. He seems genuinely appreciative (as I would be) of ANY Paypal contribution. He certainly isn’t going to complain that he is “only” getting $10 even though he knows darn well that he needs a lot more per person. It is simply rude, impolite, and bad form to ask for more.

On his Twitter feed, Carbone says “the total amount will never come close to what I actually owe, but anything helps.” I absolutely believe this statement to be true because I have done the math on this.

By my calculations, I have been VERY conservative to illustrate my points. More than likely, his actual numbers are much higher and much scarier.

For some people to tell Carbone to get a part-time job, even at $20/hour (huge for a part-time job), he would have to work 18 hours to pay one-billable hour! This doesn’t include Federal Tax, FICA, and the other deductions taken out of an employee paycheck! It is easy for someone to say but the reality is much harsher.

Carbone needs to use his brain, creativity, crowdsourcing, ingenuity, old-fashioned hustle, and other non-lawyer tactics to get through this ordeal, not get a job. His community and power to reach mainstream media is his most powerful asset at this point.

Regarding criticisms of Carbone quitting his job to devote to “Reality Steve” full-time, I encourage you to be open to my thoughts on the matter.

Years ago, Carbone stumbled into the whole “Reality Steve” gig and his entrepreneurial spirit kicked in whereby he saw the opportunity to make a business out of his hobby. What person wouldn’t want to get paid doing their hobby?  Most people hate or dislike what they do.

By becoming self-employed doing something he enjoyed, he freed up his previous position for another person needing or wanting a job.  Think about this. In this recession that has hurt so many, Carbone with passion, uncertainty, courage, and conviction kicked himself out of a reasonably secure job freeing that position for someone who wants or needs a job. If more people kicked themselves out of a secure job to become self-employed/self-sufficient, there would be more jobs available for those that want or need one. If you tell Steve to quit the “Reality Steve” gig, you will force him to take a position that someone else might want. Remember, Carbone “created” his job.  There wasn’t a “Help Wanted” sign or a newspaper ad for a “Reality Steve” blogging job.

Some people may not like it but his advertisers like what he does and they appear to be happy to pay him for it. Carbone isn’t taking anyone’s job, isn’t on welfare, food stamps, public housing, and paying his way in life from what I can tell. If anything, “Reality Steve” is a true case study of successful entrepreneurship in the Internet age. Time will ultimately tell how long it lasts. But for now, as a startup story, there are many great lessons. Make no mistake, the “Bachelor” lawsuit against him will test and challenge Carbone on so many levels, in many ways, much of it unknown to the public. I don’t have Carbone’s reach or status with “Reality Steve” but I know something about the “behind-the-scenes” work and challenges that the general public never sees. Like Carbone, I’ve had to work plenty of hours for free before we ever received a penny to spend.

It is easy to criticize Carbone of what he “should” do because none of us, including me, is in his position. The “Reality Steve” brand is unique. There are many spoiler sites but they don’t do it like Carbone.  Even the harshest critics and haters keep coming back for more!  Carbone is a one-man show trying to figure this out as he goes. I get the impression there aren’t many people in his inner circle that can truly understand the position he is in.

Carbone has been reluctant to speak out on the lawsuit or even to ask for help. I publicly called him out for suffering in silence and not asking for help. This fight is much bigger than him, and he absolutely needs to understand this. I know it is a shitty deal. He never signed up to become a symbol and a representative to bloggers nationwide but that is where he is at.  Any blogger with half a sense of scope should watch the “Reality Steve” lawsuit very closely and understand the underlying ramifications if the case does not go well or if Carbone ends up being silenced by a “back office” settlement agreement. I am not saying Carbone should NOT consider settling, but he could pay a dear and irreversible price to stay silent.

I still have some issues of him being so silent in his own defense but I am certain his lawyers are recommending that he keep comments to a minimum. I am currently working through the thought process and pros and cons of that course of action.

But Carbone did something great for himself.  He publicly declared:

One point I wanted to mention about something he wrote and that is where Matthew speculates, “But the fact of the matter is even if everything the plaintiffs claim of Carbone is true, so what?” in reference to the claim from the plaintiffs alleging that I paid people under contract to give me non-public information. The allegation is not true. While I definitely agree with his position, I am here to say that I do not pay people for non-public information that I post on my site. Just wanted to make that point absolutely clear.”

To Carbone, why the heck did it take you so long to state this again? If this is true, you need to keep saying it repeatedly and reminding EVERYONE of this fact.  It is absolutely material to the lawsuit! (I don’t want to get into legal analysis again right now as to why. I will pick that up later why that is VERY important.)

Last thing I want to acknowledge in this article, is for the conspiracy theorists. There was a comment by aatxcutie.

Um, guys be very careful about donating. There is definitely a common theme in both Chan’s website and Steve’s so called legal plight. Chan’s first blog post came about the same time so many negative posters came forward to post here. I smell a HUGE RAT@!!!!

The common theme is that both Carbone and I are bloggers, entrepreneurs, and website owners that have been legally threatened by lawyers and put in a position to have to fight back to stand up for what we do and believe in. We both had to pay to defend ourselves.  He is paying with money.  I paid using a TON of my time that should have been spent elsewhere. So yes, I can relate to him. Almost too much so.

Regarding the so-called timing of my original post? From what I recall, Reality Steve has always had its fair share of critics and naysayers. I am a casual reader and I don’t typically read the comments, mostly Carbone’s humorous commentaries. I have no clue as to the ebb and flow of his critics or the negative comments. Someone gives Carbone and me way too much credit to think this whole thing up. It is entirely coincidental.

As I have said, in scanning RealitySteve.com Sunday night, I stumbled onto one of Carbone’s cryptic references to his lawsuit. He said to go look in public records and I did exactly that. I was obviously outraged enough to bang out the article that I did. Somehow, a reader found my post and emailed Carbone.  And Carbone apparently decided of his own accord that he wanted to share my article with the world early Wed afternoon (blowing up my blogs and hosting service along the way).

It is abundantly clear that Carbone and I now know of each other’s existence but we have kept each other at a professional distance. He has offered no information to me. I have asked no information from him. As far as I know, he has no intentions to call me and I have no intentions to call him (I don’t have his number anyway and I won’t ask for it). It keeps everything clean for now. Carbone may be forbidden by his lawyers to speak out but I am not. By keeping Carbone at a personal and professional distance, I maintain my integrity and the full freedom to comment as I see fit because my commentary is entirely based on information that is publicly available and my own analysis.

I also want to keep this as impartial as I can without Carbone’s personal influence on me. I have the freedom to write what I want and how I want about his situation. It’s clear that I am an advocate for him (by virtue of his being a fellow blogger, website owner, and entrepreneur in a legal challenge.) But I do so under my own terms. Carbone, at any time, can choose to acknowledge or ignore my articles.

Naturally, I think he and his readers and fan base should pay close attention to what I have to say because I am making some very important points.  This isn’t about me randomly jumping on a soapbox without purpose.  This is about my intent to help and advocate for Carbone in a way that no one wants to or willing to (so far).  Someone has to because Carbone needs a helping hand right about now.  Carbone desperately needs to gain some leverage and equal footing against the “Bachelor” producers and he needs it NOW! Of course, that is MY biased and “slanted” opinion.

There are 3 courses of action for every reader to consider in the days to come:

  1. Criticize, undermine, and work against Carbone. (I won’t spend much time here since there is plenty of that going on.)
  2. Be a neutral observer.  You don’t help but you don’t hurt Carbone either. (I will try to sway and influence you to number 3.)
  3. You positively assist, help, encourage, or contribute to Carbone’s cause. Everyone can do something to help even if it is simply writing and sending a kind word of support. (This is where I intend to focus and share my ideas.)

Thanks for reading. Check back for my next article on the “Reality Steve” lawsuit.

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Go to Part 4 of ongoing coverage of the Reality Steve Extortion Lawsuit.

 

8 Comments

  1. Hi Matthew,

    Great posts re: Reality Steve.

    Question for you… is there anyone Reality Steve fans could contact to make the case that they, in fact, watch The Bachelor franchise strictly because of Reality Steve’s blog? My thinking is that this would squash the argument that Steve’s blog has resulted in any ‘damages’ to the show. It’s true and many fans say this in the comments of his blog all the time. If he could rally support in this regard, in addition to the financial support he is seeking, I wonder if this would be helpful?

    • Jes,

      Thanks for your comment and suggestion. It has been a flurry for me in the last 48-hours because of all the sudden attention. You are spot on in your thought. I like your idea and will try to figure out a way to work it in to my next article or action plan.

      Thanks for helping out.

      Matthew

  2. Hi Matthew,

    I absolutely agree with jesobrien. If it weren’t for Reality Steve’s blogs, I would stop watching the Bachelor franchise shows altogether. His blogs make it more fun and engaging; the producers should realize that. If they continue with this stupid lawsuit, they will see a large portion of their viewing audience boycott the shows.

    Reality Steve doesn’t have a contract with anybody in this; the producers of the show do. If they want to sue anybody, they should sue the participants who are breaching their contracts. I really don’t think that’s happening, but the producers are paranoid. I believe it’s just random people giving Steve information, as you stated. Steve really has channeled the power of social media, and the producers can’t handle it, can’t control it, and want to blame someone. You don’t see them suing “US” magazine or any of the other tabloids, so why the heck should they pick on Steve?

    You’re right about the implications of this for bloggers and other nontraditional media outlets. The big guys who have controlled everything thus far want to squash the bloggers who are gaining power. I wonder if one of the officially-sanctioned media channels for Bachelor info (People magazine?) is pressuring for this suit. They are threatened by bloggers as their print publications become increasingly irrelevant. Just a thought.

    • Skantelope,

      I think the only people who are truly pushing the lawsuits on Reality Steve are the “Bachelor” producers. The other media channels may envy Reality Steve about how he gets his inside scoops but it is whole different matter to pressure or encourage a lawsuit. In any case, the “Bachelor” producers are conveniently hiding behind the cryptic corporate names of NZK Productions and Horizons Alternative Television. That needs to be uncovered so we can find the actual individuals responsible for this. Lawyers have no power without the money and approval of the clients who hire them.

      Matthew

  3. Matthew!

    WOW! THANK YOU for

    1. Educating others on the consequences that can occur when big giants breathe their
    nasty dragon breath down your neck and in this case…in your face!
    2. SPEAKING UP AND OUT for Reality Steve’s position. What a phenomenal way to
    use your voice. Proactive (and not the acne medicine) is the way to stand!
    3. APPLYING LOGIC to this situation. Not that the boneheads needing to digest it
    will, but I applaud you for doing so.
    4. PAYING IT FORWARD. Apparently you have been in a situation reminiscent of
    Steve’s and are using your experiences to enlighten and help others!

    The qualities you exhibit are synonymous with those the greatest leaders in history shared.

    “So shines a good deed in a weary world ” Willy Wonka and William Shakespeare.

    KEEP UP THE AMAZING CAMPAIGN….
    On the heels of SOPA AND PIPA, I am fully tuned in for this one!

    Let me know if there is anything I can do to use my voice beyond donating to Mr. Carbone’s defense fund.
    BRAVO!
    Tammy~