July 5th, 2009
03:31 PM ET
5 years ago

Palin attorney warns media over 'defamatory' charges

In a memo circulated to reporters Saturday evening, an attorney warned that the Palins will go to court if others re-publish allegations of wrongdoing already published by certain Web sites including one run by a liberal Alaska blogger.
In a memo circulated to reporters Saturday evening, an attorney warned that the Palins will go to court if others re-publish allegations of wrongdoing already published by certain Web sites including one run by a liberal Alaska blogger.

(CNN) – As Gov. Sarah Palin blasted the media Saturday in a tough Facebook post, her attorney delivered a strong warning to news outlets that they should not report any stories that allege the Alaska governor is leaving office because she is under any kind of federal investigation.

CNN has not reported these allegations were in any way connected to the governor's decision to leave office early.

"To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as 'fact' that Governor Palin resigned because she is 'under federal investigation' for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation," said lawyer Thomas Van Flein in a letter (pdf) sent to reporters Saturday.

"This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation... that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law."

Moore could not be reached for comment, but told the Anchorage Daily News that she had not presented the claims as fact, and did not know whether or not they had merit, but merely served as a conduit for the rumors - which had been raised again in the wake of the governor's surprise announcement Friday.

"I haven't defamed the governor, I reported on speculation and rumor in Alaska. ... It's not my rumor; it's been out there for 10 months and the First Amendment protects me," she told the paper. "Even if I didn't say it's 'rumors and speculation,' I'm still protected - I would just lose credibility, which I'm not willing to do."

Van Flein also said in his letter Saturday that the Palin camp "can categorically state that we are not aware of any 'federal investigation' that has been 'pending' for the last seven years... To be blunt - this 'story' was alleged during the campaign, evaluated then by national media and deemed meritless. Nothing has changed."

The attorney delivered a withering critique of the media. "Just as power abhors a vacuum, modern journalism apparently abhors any type of due diligence and fact checking before scurrilous allegations are repeated as fact," he wrote.

"The Alaska Constitution protects the right of free speech, while simultaneously holding those 'responsible for the abuse of that right,'" he wrote. "These falsehoods abuse the right to free speech; continuing to publish these falsehoods of criminal activity is reckless, done without any regard for the truth, and is actionable."

On Saturday, Palin's message to supporters on her Facebook page alleged that a "different standard" was applied to her than to "countless others (who) leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term."

"How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country," she wrote.

The Alaska governor did not participate in any public events on Independence Day, the day after her announcement that she would step down from office by the end of the month.


Filed under: Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Moo

    Palin is so worried about the press she's actually attacking our first amendment rights? Seriously, I didn't think she could get any more ridiculous.

    Thank god she'll never become president.

    July 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. TRILLA

    Owoooooo......I'll bet they're all running scared. Palin just revealed just how "off the wall" she really is!!!!

    July 5, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    I'm sick to death of this prima dona moron from Alaska. She's a liar. She thinks she's above the law (typical GOP attitude) and now she's going to dictate what news can be reported about her?

    NO PALIN, NO HOW

    July 5, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Harley, Las Vegas, NV

    I am so sick of hearing about Sarah Palin. I didn't care about her when she was governor of Alaska and I certainly don't care about her now that she's resigning. The media (yes, CNN, this includes you) should just drop her. NOBODY CARES!!!

    July 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Jacob

    Yes, she's good looking, but folks, she is a nut case. We dodged a bullet when she wasn't elected vice president. She is paranoid and unable to handle politics. In today's world of politics, you better have a tough skin...rhino skin. Not only was her resignation speech incoherent, she's clearly a quitter and showing terrible judgement. How the public could be stupid enough to support her for any function is amazing to me.

    July 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Me

    It's nice to hear her talk about patriotism and mention how our solidiers in Iraq are why we have free speech. Then, like Hitler, she tries to take away the media's right to free speech. Especially David Letterman's.

    July 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. DSH

    struck a nerve, eh?

    July 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. bimmer

    Great threat. Legitimate.

    It's about time. Media including CNN be aware.

    You have shamelessly shown gender bias–against Hillary and now against Palin.

    July 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Bridget

    Please tell me we are at 14:59 of Sarah Palin's 15 minutes of fame.

    July 5, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Kevin

    Every third-year law student knows that Palin's celebrity and political prominence essentially makes a defamation suit impossible to win in court (vis a vis the "actual malice" standard). Its pretty silly that Palin's attorney could even issue such a statement with a straight face. CNN should report the hell out of this story just to make the Palin's attorney look like a goofball.

    July 5, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Lexie

    As I recall, Sarah Palin was pretty "defamatory" during the Presidential campaign. If she dishes it out, she'd better learn to take it!

    July 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. American Pie

    Typical Palin. She thinks she is above the constitution or law, as has been proven in the past, with troopergate. Gov. Palin, we in the lower 48, and non Republicans treasure a thing called the CONSTITUTION. Something you Republicans seem to try to destroy or refuse to beieve exist. Freedom of Speech...look it up in the Constitution, Freedeom of the Press, try reading about that also...Come to think of it, Read the whole Constitution...I think it will amaze you, considering it seems you have never heard of it before by your actions. You are not above being scrutinized. You are not above thelaw. You chose to be a public figure, all of this comes along with the territory. As an independant...I cahllange every Republican to read the Constitution... Whether you like it or not, this is what our country was founded on.

    July 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Dave C - NJ

    This gets more and more hilarious by the second.

    Palin is a joke, and has been from the start. She is just not that smart. And when someone that is not smart is on the national stage, they get picked apart. Think Dan Quayle.

    Her career is over, stick a fork in her, she is done.

    The fool couldn't even recite a newspaper she'd read...and she's got a degree in journalism?

    And to all those who rail about the "left wing media" let me ask you this:

    If you were a reporter and did a story on someone who thought the earth was flat vs. someone who says it's round, who ultimately are you going to lean towards?

    July 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. jt

    I knew Palin looked completely off-balanced in her quitting speech the other day. This woman has completely flipped her lid.

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Einar A. Elsner

    If she wishes to clear the air of rumors, Governor Palin should spell out the details of her "higher calling".

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. sharper

    We support you Palin. Those who have publicly falsified report must be brought to justice. Let all the liberals know, enough is enough.

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Sick -n- Tired

    Talk about frivilous lawsuits, this one takes the cake! Even Palins lawyer sounds like an imbecile just like his client! Good luck with that! You'll need it!

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Christopher M. MacNeil

    If Ms. Palin is making her choice to resign in some incoherent way to make a go of it nationally, she's made it all the more baffling by whining about a bias media – and now a "warning" from her attorney? Ask any ex or failed politician: taking on the media is suicide.

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Sheri

    So, she can make statements during the campaign she KNOWS are false, BUT if somebody repeats a rumor that is circulating at this very moment and has been out there for some time, she'll sue! Alright then! Can you imagine if she was ever elected President? News censorship, most likely anyone disagreeing with her would be sent to a camp in the furthest regions of Alaska! Thank goodness that will never happen!

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Sean

    Is this not akin to media intimidation? I thought this was America, not Iran.

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. tjlnsd

    If she can't take the pressure of Governor of Alaska what makes anyone think she can take the pressure of being President? Good Riddance!

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. hawkeye

    WOW, the media must be shakeing in their boots. Far too much denial for mean, will the real truth ever be known?? She doesn't know how to pass the ball and we kinow she can't shoot the ball, just the bull. I am sure she will appear soon on Americas' Most Hated.

    July 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Kevin

    Perhaps if we ignore her and her antics she will just go away. So please I ask the Biased media, the East Coast Elite, and Washington insiders, ignore her.....

    July 5, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  24. Dan

    It's still safe just to say she's a fruitcake, right?

    July 5, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. Ryan

    god please quit Hillary so you can run against this woman.

    July 5, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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