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. Tom

    I will be glad when she is gone. I am tired of hearing about the woman! Just another twit!

    July 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. F-Dog

    Welcome to crazytown – population: Sarah.

    July 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Dixie

    What higher calling?

    July 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Nina

    There are so many problems in the world, why do we need to listen about narcissistic person like Sarah Palin day after day. She quit her job, time for her to go away and give America a little rest from her nonsense.

    July 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. BJ in Nc

    And stories such as this are supposed to help her "retire" from the spotlight??? I think not....

    July 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Nation builder

    I wish Ron Paul would sue some media outlets, like FOX for defamation.

    July 5, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Jack

    This is stupid–there is no conceivable way Palin could win a defamation suit. Seems like her lawyer (like Palin herself) doesn't read Supreme Court opinions.

    July 5, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. doris cashman

    Could Palin's remark about a "higher calling" mean she is about to become a preacher and start a megachurch?

    July 5, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. F-Dog

    There seems to be an inconsistency. Sarah is able to claim Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and encourages the media to repeat this defamatory claim. According to Sarah, reporters are not able to comment that there is speculation that Palin will be under indictment.

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Dodie

    Everybody better be afraid of Palin...she's thinks she's royalty.....I feel sorry for that poor brother-in-law who was the State Patrol Officer she took out after. He was telling the truth....she's a pitbull with lipstick!

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. pat c

    this woman needs help,she definately has a mental problem. she is so high on her own self superority that she has become a danger to herself. she is a joke around the world by now and can't she see how we just laugh at her. thank god she has very few followers and hopefully she will fade away soon and just be remembered as a fruit cake that brought mccain down in the 2008 election.

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. Mike

    During the election Sarah Palin accused Obama of consorting with and possibly beina a terrorist. Isn't that defamatory? I just hope that this move eliminates her from ever holding a federal office. She is all style and no substance. And if what her lawyer says that thios is about country the I agree. The country is better off without her being in office.

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Ed in Iowa

    Palin is a quitter. She abandoned the people of Alaska when she abandoned her post as governor. And frankly, about the only instance where doing something like that could ever be considered the right thing to do would be if she WAS under investigation. But if she's just quitting because she's tired, or wants to do something else now, that's just dereliction of her duty, plain and simple. She should be ashamed of herself!

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. keekers

    Our blessed troops are fighting to maintain our freedom of speech, right, Ms. Palin? You still support that don't you? What goes around comes around huh?

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. felicia

    doesn't a truthful fact negate a defamation charge? ie if she really IS under fereral investigation for bribery or whatever, if it's true, than a court of law would settle against her as plaintiff in a defamation suit whereby this particular instance was the one reported on?

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. frank

    Sarah who???

    July 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. Rick Nelson

    Palin's attorney appears to be as big an idiot as she is. Before "huffing and puffing," Palin and her lawyer need to actually read constitutional case law involving the right of free speech as it relates to "public officials." I don't think they're going to like what they find out.

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

    Palin keeps herself in the news.

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

    What's next, banning the first amendment?

    July 5, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Tom in VA

    Not only can she "see" Russia, she wants Alaska to "be" Russia. Facists threaten the media. Let them sue the media and the truth will come out.

    July 5, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. CD in FL

    I can't believe that!!!! Will she ever stop??? How could reporting on rumors be a base for a lawsuit? In her own resignation speech she blamed the ethical issues brought against her... Why should someone be accused of defamation when reporting on them?
    If she is such a great person regarding moral values then why did she agree to pay back expenses she claimed for her children travel? Well Lady, there is already an ethical issue just because you did expense these costs knowing that it is a fraud. Only because questions were raised you paid back....
    This is just pathetic!!

    July 5, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. John Smith

    This ladies has mental issues.

    July 5, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Daniel Schlafer

    Flaming stars are part of the Hollywood I grew up near , not national politics ! I am not surprized by the Palin team attacking " liberal bloggers" over embezzlement allegations . Why aren't those same Palin team members questioning why the governor is quitting her job with a year and a half remaining in her term ?

    July 5, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Vivian

    Sarah sure dished out the defamatory remarks on the campaign trail. Slammer!!

    July 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. Sandra Day

    Palin decided not to run for the same reason TPaw in Minnesota decided not to run–she did not want to risk not winning the governship of her state; plus, she has big plans for running for the white house in 2012. However, I have a question, is Palin currently under federal investigation for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing? She has the bad habit of creating a lof of smoke over some tiny little comment or blog and now I am wondering.

    July 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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