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. PA Independent

    Defamation, they say? Are you kidding? Does this so-called lawyer know what the standard is for defamation, let alone of a public figure? Hint: Speaking one's OPINION doesn't do it, not even for a private individual.
    On the other hand if this flies, maybe as a democrat who lives in a surburban area I can sue Palin for defamation when she slandered me as a terrorist-loving socialist and anti-American during the campaign.

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

    And the irony continues – Didn't it take Palin 6 years and 5 colleges to finally get an undergraduate degree in Journalism?

    Guess she quit on that career path as well. What has Palin NOT quit on?

    July 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Al

    I don't care if she is under investigation or not. Where there is smoke there is fire. Leaving office 1.5 years before your term is up because your "book deal" is getting in the way is shameful Mrs. Palin, you have done nothing but bring shame upon the Republican Party. Your behavior has been embarrassing and you constantly show through your actions and words that you have NO business running the state of Alaska let alone the United States. The issue here is how abrupt your decision to leave office seems to be. If you can not finish one term as Governor, how do you expect to be President? You would have plenty of time to campaign after your term as Governor was to end. Stay out of politics please.

    July 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Ollie

    Reminds me of the Iranian regime ousting reporters for reporting negative stories.

    July 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Obama is a Disaster

    The Democrat controlled media have no scruples, and no honor. That's how they got their anti-business, anti-American President elected.

    July 5, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Sylvia

    Hmmm. Sounds like she's guilty.

    July 5, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. Tomas E

    More whaaaaa whaaaaaa whaaaaa from wasilla alaska! Don't they know how to do anything other than that?

    July 5, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Jean

    I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO tired of the on going saga of Sarah Palin and her family. Enough already. I don't care . She need to go away and stay away. The real truth will come out.

    July 5, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. sam

    I'm counting on the Lt. Governor, when sworn in as Governor of Alaska to correct poor decisions made by the former Governor Palin. Start by calling for a cease and desist order of the shooting of wolves and the brutal killing of the pups in there dens.

    July 5, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Jacie

    What a nut-job!

    July 5, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. Heather

    This seems very extreme to me. Sarah Palin herself has made hundreds of false claims on her opponents, and her opposing party. I see no valid reason why she should expect people to treat her any differently then she treats others.

    July 5, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Meredith

    Go get'm Palin! Any media outlet that prints such rubbish needs to be taken to court. The news media, especially, since they are supposed to be a fact-based reporting group; not a liberal slang slinger.

    July 5, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. John V

    I think Palin would be best served to follow Obama's example. Obama never even commented much less threated to sue over such things as Barak the Magic Negro or the Obama Waffles. If she is going to go around sue happy, I wish her the best of luck in running for any kind of office.

    July 5, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. MRT

    not worth the energy to comment.

    July 5, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    She has the same bizarre relationship with the press that Gary Hart did back in 84. Doesn't like the press but still wants their attention. The 'I hate you/don't leave me' syndrome.

    July 5, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Tammy

    I read Ms. Moore's blog, and was surprised to hear Palin's attorney's take on the "accusation". To report that there are rumors is not the same as saying the rumors are true. Palin continues to be delusional and egotistical. Her inflated self image is the most pathetic, destructive aspect of her public image.

    July 5, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Darth Vadik, CA


    Is the poor little Palin afraid of a little exposure?

    Just like a typical Republican, you have the right to speak free (as long as you follow our line).
    You have the right to protest (as long as it is in a certain confined area called the free speech zone)

    You Republicans sicken me. All of you self-righteous, sanctimonious bastards. I always knew you had to have a screw loose to be a Republican (you know, greed is good kind of crap), but now I KNOW you have to have a whole bunch of screws missing to believe in the "Republican ideology."

    July 5, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Paul in Louisville

    Palin – one of the saddest chapters in American politics and that's saying something. How anyone in 2009 can evey remotely believe this woman is qualified to be President is just mind-boggling. It just goes to show how far the GOP has fallen. I just hope that we're close to seeing the last of her.

    July 5, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Jack in Des Moines

    "CNN has not reported these allegations were in any way connected to the governor's decision to leave office early."....no, you merely suggest it is, which makes you a tabloid network instead of a news network.

    July 5, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Tyler

    However, it's a legal principle that public figures have a much higher bar to reach in libel and slander suits. So good luck with that.

    July 5, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. fred

    How many dedicated blogs to Palin? Why do you guys at CNN love her so much? Give it a break!!! Did anyone read what Biden said about this administration misread how bad economy was? Or about not getting in Israel's way if they attack Iran? CNN PLEASE print a NEWS story that isn't TOALLY slanted in favor of Obama/Biden! Oh, and actually print just ONE of my posts! Stop censoring intelligent comments!!!

    July 5, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Amused

    It's not about country. It's most likely about fame and fortune.

    July 5, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Brandon

    That's right Sarah, you sue the nation into respecting you! Maybe you and Jack Thompson can be running mates in 2012.

    July 5, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Tom

    Palin = THIN SKINNED.

    This kind of press release from her lawyer is EXACTLY the thing that Steve Schmidt forbade from being released during the campaign regarding Todd Palin and the AIP – secessionist movement.

    July 5, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. sighing

    Palin...Jackson..enough already..

    July 5, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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