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

Palin attorney warns media over 'defamatory' charges

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/05/art.palins0705.gi.jpg caption="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. gumbosally

    anytime anyone of political prominence holds a press conference as disjointed and marginally coherent as the one gov. palin held last friday is vulnerable to all manner of specualtion. this mght not be fair, it might not even be reasonable, but it is the way of the news world. one would think that anyone in politics might know that by now. maybe those with thin skin best remove themselves from potential public scrutiny by adjourning to home and hearth for a while. a long while.

    July 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. johnrj08

    The journalists who are reporting hard news are not speculating about the reasons behind Palin's strange speech and decision to quite her job 18 months early. However, commentators and pundits are having a field day discussing why she might have made this decision. Her attorney cannot sue any of those people for speculating. That is an empty threat. In any case, if Palin was really interested in stopping all the talk she might consider just giving another news conference where reporters are allowed to ask questions. Right now, she's trying to have it both ways.

    July 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. jerry

    It amazes me how the media tries to stir up trouble! Palin would make a great president and her decision to leave office is her decision! Why doesn't cnn report on things that matter like how obama is destroying America!

    July 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. Brett from Oriskany

    Wouldn't it be nice if another member of the American Taliban bit the dust. They seem to be falling like dominoes these days. All these "moral" champions of wing nut fundamentalist part of the party are not only destroying what was Abe Lincoln's party but eventually their religiofacism will damage America as well. In the wake of Independence day we all ought to take a long hard look at what real patriotism is in America. My way or the highway is not patriotism,wanting the current president to fail is not patriotism. I remember what the wing nuts said when they were in power and embroiled in a quagmire called Vietnam. It was my country right or wrong and they tried to call that patriotism. The trouble is that undereducated America buys these slogans they don't undertsand from Fox and Limbaugh. Plain gone would be a blessing to freedom indeed.

    July 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Linda

    Shannyn Moore is a horrible person.

    July 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. tigerakabj

    Are we in the twilight zone or something?

    McCain sure did open Pandora's box on the Republican party when he selected Palin. She's like a toilet that won't flush, but just stinks up the room more and more everytime you try.

    Lastly, thank God this woman didn't make it into the White House.

    July 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Neutralizer

    I guess Shannyn Moore did not realize her freedom of speech has LIMITATION, it is NOT absolute. When she spread rumors using her blog defaming Governor Palin she has forgotten something; defamation of character or libel is a CRIME. Governor Palin can now go after people who are defaming her, lawsuits would be filed against these people and rightfully so. I understand why she step down as governor. These frivolous lawsuits are costing Alaskan Taxpayers a little over $2 million, out of her good heart and consideration of her constituents she choose to step down. That was a moral decision by Governor Palin, a rarity nowadays in politics in this country. How many politicians hang on to their power? Too many of them. Unethical politicians like Barney Franks, Chris Dodd, Pelosi, Reid, Feinstein. Drunkard and womanizing Kennedys and others who have thick skin when it comes to GRAFT and CORRUPTION, it becomes part of who they are.

    Bravo Governor Palin, you're the rarest breed of politician in this country who still have morality while others are as evil as they get and greedy as they come.

    July 5, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. dave

    there is very little reliable info on the internet

    also I need to say something here so cnn will run my comment

    GOP bad

    July 5, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Robert

    She in fact is proably under investigation for being super dumb!

    Please Please Please shut up and go away!

    July 5, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. jbvincent

    I hope they sue the pants off that blogger.

    July 5, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. Wha...?

    I'm confused. What "countless others" have left office (voluntarily – I don't think she's comparing herself to Blago here) before their terms expired? Obama, Biden, Clinton, Martinez, Sebelius, and others who resigned one office to take another, higher one? If she were taking a higher office within the Obama Administration I think we would have heard about it....LOL
    Who else has voluntarily "left office" for an unspecified "higher calling"?? Anybody??

    July 5, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  12. dumbfounded

    I guess people are no longer able to express their opinions in Alaska without the threat of a lawsuit. Blogging is an expression of opinion, even if the blogger has a large following. Looks like the Gestapo is taking hold.

    July 5, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  13. JJ in NY

    About time the liberal scum blogs were taken to task !

    July 5, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. Georgia

    Why does Palin want to go to Washington that bad if it is against her?

    Why does she think she can run the country if the liberal media is against her??

    How would she run the country if things were rough out there like they are now? Would she want to hide someplace to get away from difficult situations??

    Palin couldn't even handle running a state where the caribou outnumber the people! She had to quit this cake job??? What a joke!

    What about other governors that are lame ducks like Paulenty and Crist? You don't see them QUITTING!

    What a LOSER! "You betcha"

    July 5, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. cats

    Gov. Palin mentioned some ethics charges against her in her recent speech. Can anyone give some facts about these ongoing investigations Ms. Palin speaks of?

    July 5, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Sean Strauss

    I don't care if she's under investigation or not. And even though I'm not a supporter of Gov. Palin, I think it's a terrible decision on her part to quit.

    She had a responsibility to finish her term, and to try to push her agenda, even though she knew it would be difficult, and even though she knew she would stay on only one term.

    And her claim that she doesn't need a title to affect change is entirely incorrect. Up to now, she's had more than a title - she's had power and responsibility. From here on in, the ONLY thing she'll have is the title.

    July 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. C

    Way to stop people from talking about these supposed allegations, Palin attorney! I didn't know about it until I read the letter you sent out but I was THINKING it from the moment I heard Palin's speech.
    "Doing the best for Alaska" is such a crock. But please, by all means, continue to alienate the media and the american people.

    July 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Bob

    As the most hated woman in such a short time in the history of the UnIted States (mainly because she's a Republican) I would urge her not to run for President in 2012. The media will go after her and her family in the most vicious way we have never seen before. Thank you Charlie Gibson for being so professionaly bias in reporting the news>>>NOT!

    July 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  19. gerardo

    oh please, get over your self Palin. Stay up in Alaska and stop trying to interject yourself into the news every time your name isn't in it.

    July 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Lloyd Roberts, Jamaica New York

    Gee, isn't it the republicans that always scream for tort reform and rallying against frivolous lawsuits. Yet everytime their little baby feelings get hurt, they run to court. My feelings get hurt a lot by people but I've never filed a suit yet. Seems like more repub hypocrisy.. Yes, the media and people in general are tough on hypocrisy, i.e., Vitter, Craig, Sanford, Ensign and that little jerk in florida who e-mailed sexually explicit material to under aged pages, Mark Foley. Stop screaming family values and get out of peoples personal lives, and maybe the party will get back to it's roots, you'll win some elections, and the press will lay off. Oh poor Sarah, got a big rough tough lawyer, now, wow we're scared.

    July 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. Donna

    This is so interesting. In a world where people are blogging that the President is not a U.S. citizen, that he is Muslim, etc., there suddenly is this strident response to the accurate reporting of rumors of financial improprieties? Soon-to-be-ex Governor Palin, to my knowledge, never objected to the rumors about others–she simply can't tolerate what can go along with being in the public eye. Foolish woman.

    July 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. c wild

    This from the women who repeatedly accused Obama of "paling around with terrorists" during the presidential campaign.

    July 5, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. Ivan Goldberg, NJ

    It shouldn't matter why she is leaving just that she leave and never darken America's doorstep ever again! A note to Alaska, oh please keep her there so she does not come down here! As for her attorney, come to New York City and see what kind of free speech we practice here!!!

    July 5, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Boston Guy

    Again, Sarah Palin has to get herself in the news as being like a 10 year old brat. When, will she go away? Where are the Moose when you need one?

    July 5, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. garofulaar

    While I will probably never vote Republican again, the country does need a credible second party. The current GOP is becoming unelectable, partly because it's a freak show, and also because of changing demographics. If the GOP stays marginalized as the party of the paranoid, racists, and brainwashed religious nut-jobs, is it time for a new center party?

    July 5, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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