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. Republican Mess Part 2

    Great job Senator John McCain, this is who you wanted as VP of the United States!?!?!?

    You are just as responsible for this mess as Palin for putting us at enormous potential risk of having this unstable woman as second in command.

    Was her lipstick really that impressive?

    July 5, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. A concerned veteran

    A conduit for rumors? To think, I thought the news was supposed to be hard facts. I'm pretty sure at one time that's what the news was.

    July 5, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Larry

    Maybe she's just a complete flake.

    I thought last week she wanted to be president. She'd never make it now.

    July 5, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  4. Johnny-Boy

    My god, what is wrong with this woman?...
    I guess Obama should sue her for claiming that he "pals around with terrorists", huh. Not to mention the huge amount of other un-truths she is known to toss around as fact.


    Now, knowing her as we do, she will respond to my post with anger and hopefully she will sue me.

    July 5, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Alan in Marietta, GA

    I hope she files suit. Unlike her obsession with monologues and no give and take, she will have to answer question in a deposition that may or may not be related. This will blow up in her face.

    July 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Davey

    Palin is still a quitter, and apparently doesnt believe in our Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech. When combined with her traitor-secessionist husband, that makes her anti-American.

    July 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. economist

    Libel is a very hard charge to make stick. Good luck with that, Palin's Lawyer.

    July 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. Mary the Democrat

    The media has turned into a bunch of vultures!!!

    July 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Steve in Kentucky

    This lawyer should know that as a public official, it would be very difficult for Palin to successfully litigate any libel or defamation claim. Otherwise, President Obama would have a field day with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Faux News. Heck, he could have even sued Palin for her remarks during the campaign.

    This is basic media law 101 so Van Flein is playing nothing more than a poorly advised bluff. No one should be fooled otherwise.

    It's funny how right wing nuts believe they can defame anyone with the most extreme of attacks but when it comes to THEM being the focus of the same kinds of speech, another set of rules apply altogether.

    July 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Voter

    Sorry, "Ms. Palin," you are very much a public figure, and you and your antics, legal and otherwise, are fair game for the press.

    If you want to position yourself to "sue" people, you'll have to shut your mouth for several years – oh, and don't run for public office again.

    Come to think of it, that's good advice for Sarah Palin, "defamation" charges or not.

    July 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Nancy W.

    If you can't take the heat, definitely don't get involved in politics. Sarah Palin is a moron, constantly crying foul. She's annoying, and I hope she's decided to spend more time with her family and less time ingratiating herself onto American society. If she wants to be president, she can be president of her local Alaskan moose lodge; at least she's qualified for that.

    July 5, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. jessieboston

    Who cares? She's a moron and the world knows it...thankfully America woke up in time and figured it out too before it was too late. I'm surprised she's not suing SNL and Tina Fey for defamation of character. What a cry baby!!!!!

    July 5, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. Greg

    Oh Yeah, He's gonna take on the Big Guns like CNN.....Whatever!!!!!!! That little cracker jack lawyer would get buried in the court room.

    July 5, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. Todd (not the Alaska Separatist)

    Sarah Palin has prior ethical violations and subsequently faced cameras and lied to the public that there were no such lapses. The press has a duty to uncover her additional violations of the public trust that inevitably exist. They will be fitting footnotes to her political suicide. There are not enough wingnuts to support her a national level candidate, but I am sure she will find a forum on Fox News for her ignorant blather.

    July 5, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. Carole

    LOL.........drama, drama, drama!

    July 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Art Stewart

    Not so sure about the Palin attorney's ability to enforce squelching of such "reports" under the interpretation of alleged "defamation" as there are exemptions when it comes to individuals in the 'public' domain, such as elected office holders.

    July 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Tina, NC

    Notice that she still didn't explain how a mayor of a small town managed to afford to build a house worth 500k. What bank is going to finance a construction loan without a licensed contractor who has builders insurance. Todd and his buddies don't qualify.

    I was the Credit Manager for a large building supply chain and I can NEVER remember an instance in which an individual built their own house without a contractor who was licensed and had the right amount of insurance to cover the construction of the house. No bank in their right mind, regardless of the customer, is going to do that.

    July 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Mike from CA

    Sarah Palin just cannot take the heat whatsoever. She is unfit for governor and is unfit for being the President of the United States.


    July 5, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Jackson

    gimme a break

    July 5, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. R in Maine

    What is this? A politician who has announcer her intent to sue if anyone hurts her feelings? That is just typical of a Republican in a minor state. There is nothing about her that can be said to be false or unfair.You just cannot take her seriously. After all the things that she has said, it cannot be about different standards.

    July 5, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. Jake in NW

    Palin and her advisors are falling into a predictable pattern. Acquire whatever you can from a given situation (nomination for VP, Alaska Gov), quickly disown the situation to avert blame, and then complain loudly that it is all the fault of a convenient scapegoat in order to draw attention away from potential negative impact of abandoning ship.

    I'm afraid the governor's higher calling is a voice only she can hear.

    July 5, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Chris C.

    The people of Alaska elected her to do a job, and she's running away from it now. If my governor tried to pull that stunt I would never elect him to another position in government. What if she had become vice president (or god forbid ever became president) would she resign the presidency during the last year?

    July 5, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. TCM

    I'm glad to see the lawyer laying it out there; whether you like Palin or not, there's far too much dafamatory and slanderous crap out there, posted solely by liberal Obama supporters...they need to feel the sting of repercussions. As with most Obama supporters, they're never responsible for their actions (thus the credit card bill, mortgage saviour bill, health care bill....), but it's ridiculous how they can drive Palin's family, or anyone they want to, into the ground, merely because they have a computer and they think they're untouchable.

    July 5, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. Joe the Troll

    I've seen the transcript, the woman plainly said "rumor" twice. It's the over-the-top reaction from Palin that gives it credence. Where was this concern for truth when she was repeating that "palling around with terrorists" stuff at every single rally?

    July 5, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. obamamama

    Apparently she's guilty as charged, otherwise why so defensive??

    July 5, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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