July 5th, 2009
03:31 PM ET
12 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. Pete

    Oh good Lord. The GOP is hopeless.

    July 5, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Melissa

    Sorry Palin but Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech outweigh your inability to handle whether people say bad things about you or not. The Constitution outweighs your childish behavior.

    July 5, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Jimmy

    Where there is flame there is fire.

    Running scared says it all

    July 5, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Michah

    She is a POLITICAL figure, she is FAIR GAME

    July 5, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. jaye

    So, Palin was free to accuse Obama of being a Socialist, of being tied to Anti-American traitors and terrorists, etc., but, no one is suposed to accuse her of anything?
    We have freedom of speech in America (just listen to the horror spewed on fox news) and Palin is a public figure and will get what she deserves. Her threats of any legal action is too funny.
    Is she really involved with Mark Sanford???

    July 5, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Kelly

    So it's perfectly okay to say a national figure is "palling around with terrorists" is perfectly acceptable and within her rights of free speech, but the moment someone says something negative about her, she's threatening to sue?

    Got it, Sarah. The First Amendment is only valid when it works to your advantage.

    Her narcissism knows no boundaries!

    July 5, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Palion=Cry Baby

    July 5, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Taylor B1

    This dreadful, self-absorbed and ignorant woman ...can't even finish ONE term as Governor? Maureen Dowd and Gail Collins in the NYT pretty well finished her off in columns yesterday and today. I really, truly do hope she just goes away...and all her followers can give up on their faux-Frank Capra fantasies about a "real" person gettin' up there and tel;lin' those "politicians" what to do and how to solve the world's problems.

    July 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. RManis

    Gov. Palin's lawyer sounds every bit as arrogant and incompetent as his client. I guess 'free press' is a threat to Gov. Palin. A Facebook post? What's he gonna do next- write a message on the men's room wall?

    July 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. jaye

    Sorry Sarah, you're a public figure (just like Britney Speers and Paris Hilton...LOL) and your threats of legal action won't hold water.
    I wonder what scandal is on the way about her....a huge scandal that she's trying to derail before it comes to light?

    July 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Daisy Carter

    Ms. Moore, STOP PRINTING RUMOR AND GOSSIP! Whatever happened to media accountability on printing ONLY the TRUE FACTS? This is exactly why anyone with common sense takes the news with a grain of salt. You cannot count on any truth coming from media nowadays. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU.

    July 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  12. Joan

    It's a free country Sarah...people may publicly speculate as much as they desire...even about you, yes, you. You have no one to blame but yourself for your troubles. Get help from someone you don't have control over!

    July 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Steve

    Kudos to Palin's attorney. CNN, leave her alone. Go after your gay gossiper, Anderson Cooper, and make certain he tells the real story. Stop the gossip.

    July 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Sarah "Paris" Palin

    "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."

    Modern Journalism should file a defamation suit against Attorney Van Flein and the Palin camp.

    July 5, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. Lauren

    Well, don't let that door hit her on the way out–she might sue!!

    July 5, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. Mike in MN

    perhaps if she would come out and say why she is leaving office there wouldn't be as much speculation.... Go ahead and complain that the media treats you and your family unfairly, but remember that you're the one who won't give a clear answer and your the one who shoved your family into the spotlight during the campaign as one of the reasons you were qualified to be VP.

    July 5, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. Matt

    Does she really think she can make an impact outside of politics if this is the course she is going to take? Threatening the media?

    July 5, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. Drove Ray

    Bush left his Govenorship.
    And look at the USA today!

    We took a daddies-boy amateur politician,
    and are now paying a horrible price economically.

    America was so naive to allow Bush to take the Presidency.
    This Repubs found the loophole in Term Limits!
    Send the son of the Former President!
    So essentially eight years of a Bush Regime,
    and a decimated economy.

    July 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Gentwelve

    Palin is a monster. Do not try and get in her path as she may be on a holy mission from god. She may be as destructive as any Muslim terrorist. I guess I have just dug my own grave as her legal team will come after me and try to destroy my life because I expressed an opinion.

    July 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. Chris


    Nothing says "Conservative" like hiring a lawyer to threaten media outlets.

    This lady really is a whackjob.

    July 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. annie s

    Well, I'd say its a darn good thing for Sara that "modern journalism apparently abhors any type of due diligence and fact checking before scurrilous allegations are repeated as fact" or they might have called her out on all her lies during the Presidential campaign.

    July 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Sandra - Illinois

    Aside from any rumors or allegations that Sarah Palin in being investigated, she has now shown me that she even understands what it means to be an elected official and how to conduct herself. Every time we turn around she is in the middle of turmoil with either the press or sometimes the Republican party.

    It would be great if Sarah Palin would now retire herself from the public view for awhile and reflect on what it is she really plans to do now that she is not governor. She doesn't have to answer to us for anything unless it involves trying to run for President or pushing her agenda down our throats. I hope to hear less about her and find out that she is working toward becoming a private citizen again.

    July 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. jaye

    I hope CNN dosen't let her threats stop them from digging up and reporting the truth about her.

    July 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  24. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    We all know there is SOOOOOOOOO much more to her resigning than she is saying so sue me. She is too power hungry to give up that office just because she wants a 'quiet' family life. She is a clueless pathological egotistical liar who would never resign unless she had to. The other shoe will drop shortly.

    July 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  25. JHL

    If it looks like a duck; walks like a duck; and, quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

    The timing and substance of Palin's announcement are so surreal that one can not help but wonder about her true motivations. If it's to get rich through speaking engagements and a book deal, that's understandable. But to launch a Presidential campaign for 2012 or 2016 with her lack of accomplishments by not even finishing a term as governor, hideee ho neighbor not a thoughtful strategy.

    We'll see how this plays out.

    July 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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