Weatherman Takes to Court to Defend Name

     TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – An online weatherman has rained federal litigation down on a competitor who called him an uncredentialed “charlatan” on Facebook.
     Michael Phillips, whose Twitter account @theWeatherboy has 165,000 followers, filed his lawsuit on Sept. 16 against Jonathan Carr and his competing website Weather NJ.
     A Facebook account for the Weatherboy, whose real last name is Konowicz, says David Letterman made him famous.
     Phillips says he has appeared on other television and radio stations since 1993, and is a “broadcast personality” on WeatherOnline.
     Since late 2014, however, Carr and Severe Weather NJ have defamed Phillips by disparaging “the source and accuracy of the weather related information” he provided, according to the complaint.
     In Twitter posts, Carr has said Phillips had a “fake audience” and “no degree,” the complaint states.
     Phillips said the online sniping continued into February 2015 when Carr posted on Phillips’ Twitter account that he had “unsettling proof” that Phillips was a “total fraud.”
     Carr elaborated in further posts that Phillips was not a professional meteorologist and not a member of the American Meteorological Society, according to the complaint.
     “Just some guy impersonating a team of meteorologists practicing horrible journalism,” Carr allegedly wrote.
     Phillips says he demanded a retraction, but that Carr instead posted a lengthy article to his website expanding on his criticisms.
     In the post, Carr allegedly said that Weatherboy had attacked him for mistakenly posting a stock picture of a tornado to describe severe winds that later turned out to not be a tornado. “If you like drama, then make some popcorn and pull up a chair,” Carr wrote in the June 25 post, as quoted in the complaint.
     This past June, website records show, Carr accused Phillips of buying Facebook likes from “buy likes now” websites in Egypt. To support this claim, Carr posted a purported screen shot showing that Cairo is the most popular city among Phillips’ 253,000 “likes.”
     “To this day, he has yet to reveal his identity publicly or any meteorological credentials,” wrote Carr, a software developer who also has no formal meteorological training. “The idea that some people actually believe his story makes me nauseous. It’s very dishonest and manipulative.”
     A LinkedIn profile for Phillips states he graduated from Lyndon State College with a degree in Meteorology and Broadcast Communications, and that he also has meteorology degrees from Mississippi State University and Rutgers University, as well as a certificate in environmental journalism from Ohio State University.
     Carr’s accusations of fraud are “likely to influence consumers of social media weather information services and dissuade members of the public from visiting or supporting [Phillips’] social media sites and the Weatherboy Weather brand,” the defamation lawsuit states.
     Noting that advertising and media revenue is at stake, Phillips seeks at least $150,000 in damages.
     Carr could not be located for comment. An email for request sent to Weather NJ’s support address was not immediately returned.
     Phillips’ attorney, David Heim, did not respond to requests for comment.

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