Palin Threats To News Organizations Seem Misguided

from the why-would-you-do-that dept

I’m hoping the comments here don’t turn into a political snowball fight that does no one any good. Personally, I don’t care much about “politics” or political parties, and there are few things I could care less about than why Sarah Palin resigned from her job as Governor of Alaska. However, what does interest me is the news that apparently her lawyers sent a letter threatening to sue the press for writing anything defamatory about Palin, specifically mentioning some of the speculation found on various blogs about why she suddenly quit. It’s difficult to understand the thinking behind sending such a letter. People will speculate — it’s what they do, and it’s perfectly legal. Defamation is declaring something that’s patently false as fact, and I don’t see any mainstream news sources doing that. But, speculating on the reasons why it might have happened isn’t defamation. Even worse, as Jay Rosen notes, in sending such a threatening letter, Palin’s lawyers have just “legitimized the story.” Now the press has even more to cover, in that they can simply report on the legal threat, and explain the “speculative” stories behind it. Pre-threatening the press not to report on some speculation found on blogs seems like a sure-fire way to get coverage of that story you’re trying to suppress.

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Comments on “Palin Threats To News Organizations Seem Misguided”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Palin pushes big red button, sues internet.... Whaaa?

Agree with Tack.

Mike writes about whatever is interesting to him, then we discuss. It’s somewhat Socratic in it’s methodology. Get used to it.

As for Sarah, I wish her luck. Her pictures in this month’s Runner’s Magazine were nice, and made me wonder why I didn’t vote for her, but a day later, she decided to “threaten to sue the entire internet” as Wonkette puts it anyway, and well, the memories came back.

If she wants to sue the internet via Twitter, I really, really can’t even comprehend her mental state if she was even in the same room as the folks who *may* press the big red button.

She’s proven herself on multiple levels:
Remember, during the 2008 election, she said how her “Executive Experience” as Governor was better than President Obama’s. However, a real executive doesn’t throw in the towel when things get tough. Her action to do just that shows her full “Executive Capability”.

Jon B. says:

Re: Palin pushes big red button, sues internet.... Whaaa?

“Remember, during the 2008 election, she said how her “Executive Experience” as Governor was better than President Obama’s. However, a real executive doesn’t throw in the towel when things get tough. Her action to do just that shows her full “Executive Capability”.”

Palin’s “executive” experience comments were pretty tongue-in-cheek. Yeah, she was serious in the sense that some is greater than zero, but I don’t think she ever really claimed to be “experienced”. I really haven’t been paying attention and don’t know what this new thing is about but I kinda wonder if it falls in the same category.

Also, regarding her resignation… I really haven’t heard many people mention this, but it’s worth pointing out. It’s not uncommon for an incumbent governor with no plans for reelection to simply resign early. It gives the lt. governor time to prepare for a campaign and run as an incumbent. That’s what I think is happening with Palin. I think Romney did the same thing, if memory serves. Don’t know what her plans are, but resigning early isn’t unheard of.

Sped says:

The media has attacked her and her family. Jokes about raping her daughter, HuffPost posting she was planning to run on “Retardation” policy, lies about corruption and FBI probes, the list goes on.

If media publish erroneous stories as fact that harm a person, they should be held accountable.

And Obama had no executive experience. “community organizer” bah.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, and if some nameless person on a forum said “Hey, I’m gonna come rape you, Anonymous Coward”, I’d invite it, fully knowing I have buckshot 20 feet away from my bed.

In Alaska, Mrs. Palin allows the use of a helicopter to shoot wolves. Surely in her State, a helicopter would be useful in protecting a family.

Get fucking real. She’s a pathetic piece of shit.

moore850 (profile) says:

FBI 'not' investigating?

Nothing about her could be more odd than the FBI publicly stating over the weekend that they are ‘not’ investigating her on public corruption charges. Now she threatens to sue over defamatory statements? She defamed herself the entire government of Alaska by quitting her term early with no plausible explanation, and now she tries to stop the ocean of criticism with a broom. She should have said she was quitting to take care of her new kid (whether that was true or not) — no one would be able to make any comments on that.

bob says:

They Are Frightened

2012 will usher in the age of Palin, I hope she will be able and willing to undo all the unconstitutional crap from the last 40 years.
Palin scares the progressives, who want to control our lives.
Palin had both empathy and identification with 60% of the American people, she is conservative, and that’s why the progressives must destroy her.
Were her lawyers smart in this instance, prolly not.
They Are Frightened.

JackSombra (profile) says:

Re: They Are Frightened

“They Are Frightened.”
Yep, because anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that “Hockey Mom” is not an appropriate leader of the most powerful country in the world, just like the “guy down at the local bar” (Bush) was not.

If she had just been trying to give that image to appeal to certain class of voters it could have been ignored by those who know this truth, but (un)fortunately her actions, speech’s, interviews have proven that “backward small town Hockey mom” is an appropriate description of her level of intellect and knowledge.
Actually thinking about it, think I just insulted a hell of a lot of real hockey mom’s by including Palin in their number

World can only hope that America has learned it’s lesson, people who seem like “ordinary people” should not be elected to the job of leader of the country.

That job requires someone “extraordinary” and Palin, but her own admission, is anything but that

Reed Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Re: They Are Frightened

“anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that “Hockey Mom” is not an appropriate leader of the most powerful country in the world”

Your response is so typical of left-wing misinformation. Palin was not running for President, or don’t you remember that? If her ticket had won, John McCain would be leader of the free world. And please spare me the “one heartbeat away” line so often repeated by left wing ventrilquist dummies. I’d thank you to use your mind and assemble your own thoughts.

Kevin says:

Thin skin?

That’s the funny thing about politics…the thin-skinned need not apply. I can’t count how many times other major political figures in the US have been repeatedly slandered and libeled by the political foes, but it’s a very rare day when someone threatens to sue over it. Most people are adult enough to realize that it comes with the territory and move on.

The sad thing is, she wants to beat up on “the media” for what bloggers are posting about her. But mainstream media sources haven’t reported at all about the allegations on the blogs. Maybe she doesn’t understand the difference between mainstream professional news organizations and blogs. All I can say is that the whole “everybody is picking on me” schtick is old. Very, very old. If you choose to throw your hat into the ring on the national stage then you have to be prepared to accept the consequences.

Bradley Stewart (profile) says:

John McCain Winner Of the First Bob Dole Lifetime

achievement award. What was he thinking? From the first time I heard Sara Palin speak it was clear to me that not only did she know nothing about National History and or Poitics not even to speak of Iternational Politics and History but she had no interest in these things. Since McCain won the Republician nomination and picked this woman I have had to line my mouth with fly paper because my jaw dropped so far I have not been able to close my mouth to this day.

John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

Palin is a sure loser

About the only reason to run Palin in 2012 is that the republicans don’t want to waste a more viable candidate against Obama.

I think she is a looney and too thin skinned to survive long in a high visibility position. That said I’d put a couple of quatloos on her getting a show on FOX News by the end of the decade. But I wouldn’t be shocked if she joined Barnum and Bailey as a clown either.

lanadee says:

Palin and her lawyers

A person would have to have their heads in the sand to not see how biased and onesided the press has been against Palin.
Just because she anticipated the next backlash of unfair reporting does not mean she is inviting it. I for one am glad Palin is here. I am tired of the cookie cutters who feel we all must think alike, and that when one differs in opinion, it is wrong. I have never been political, but this last election has me convinced if we do not start getting involved, we are going to lose our America, as we know it.

Thanks for your blog. I love it..even when we differ in opinion, politically.

Easily Amused says:

Re: Palin and her lawyers

It’s not really bias to call a loser a loser. She has a ridiculous number of skeletons in her closet for the very limited time she has been in public service, she apparently has zero trouble trying to cover up things at the first sign of trouble, hides behind her gender as a reason to avoid criticism, preaches to the world about family morals and values but can’t get her own kids to follow her rules, etc. etc.

I would love to see a strong and capable woman run for president (or vice), but she was an awful choice. There are a lot of things that voters will forgive if they are handled correctly, but she seems incapable of doing so or even so much as following her handlers’ lead.

InNH says:

Fact as Fiction

What everyone seems to be missing here is that a blogger reported as fact that she was being investigated by the FBI and the mainstream media repeated it. Yes, if it was just speculation, that’s different. When people report fiction as fact, there’s a major problem and there should be some repercussions, especially when it’s an epidemic. Can you imagine the outcry if any of the things said about Palin’s family or Palin were repeated about Obama’s family or him? Hey, Obama has great calves 😉

JackSombra (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Fact as Fiction

30 secs on google–ms
Lots more out there, including them putting on people asking for him to be killed to asking for Bin Laden to attack america to get rid of him. Never mind the 101 occasions of them accusing him of being “anti american”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Fact as Fiction

I know I’m wasting my time here but seriously Jack… the first two links are from the same Fox haters piecing together out of context comments. Great find!
And the last video is a newsworthy story about, at the time, a presidential candidate who could not produce a birth certificate. How dare they report that!

JackSombra (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Fact as Fiction

LOL you asked for proof you got it then you deny it because the source nicely groups it all together for you, one wasting their breath here is myself.

Just as you proved on the 3rd link, Obama had showed his birth certificate (which he would NEVER have been asked for if he had not been black) and what did they do? Call it a possible fake.

But even before that story was never news worthy, why? because the guy was a state senator for some 7 years and US senator for 4 years. You think secret service don’t do in depth background checks?

It was just mud slinging from the right that they hoped would stick, along with the 101 “accidental” Osama’s instead of Obama’s

Rob R. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Fact as Fiction

Just as you proved on the 3rd link, Obama had showed his birth certificate (which he would NEVER have been asked for if he had not been black

Of course, he also never would have been elected if he wasn’t black. By the way, ALL presidential candidates are required by law to produce proof that they were born in the USA since that is one of the requisites of being president. McCain had to show a birth certificate, he just did it right away with no fuss. Barack Hussein Obama just had to wait long enough to make it look like he was hiding something. Either that or he was too distracted throwing his lifelong friend and closest advisor under the bus once it was discovered he was a hate-monger.

But I don’t want to get into a political argument here. Just had to reply to the guy throwing out nonsense.

Anonymous Coward says:

So the fbi issues a statement we aren’t investigating her, this retard issues a blog I don’t believe the fbi, they are investigating her, she should just sit ant let them? These progressives that hate America, freedom and everything our country should stand for are just pathetic. They use hate and fear mongering to spread their lies, use the laws of this nation against it, but hate it when the law is used against them. They start crying pouting and calling names, like little babies on the playground in elementary school.

I’m glad my 6 year old is smart enough to see through their childish schemes, to bad those of you the progressives are using to destroy our freedoms while gaining their power aren’t.

Reed Hubbard (profile) says:

All the nasty little barbs about Palin being “thin-skinned” or worse are typical of today’s left. We no longer have a debate on issues of policy or ideology. Instead, we have anonymous school children calling names and spinning tales from behind mommy’s virtual skirt. Ad hominem, mysogyny, elitist rants – all are standard fare and are tolerated, nay indulged, by people who immediately hate a person simply because her politics do not jibe with their own.

Sarah Palin ran for Vice President a year ago. She was savaged as if she were running for president and subjected to a level of ridicule and spit-in-one’s-face vitriol that her RUNNING MATE’S opponent never saw even a tenth of. That man, who ultimately won the presidency, has made a shambles of the US economy and of foreign policy, still the HuffPo klatsch can’t quit focusing on Palin’s wardrobe or children. Sarah’s team lost, but the left can’t resist kicking a woman when she’s down. It’s a level of cowardice that is usually manifested in adolescent cliques, and it’s pitiful.

I don’t know if a preemptory threat is the wisest PR move, but defamation is defamation, and just because a twentysomething manchild who blogs from mommy’s basement and gets his political views from movie stars and MTV does it, it’s no more protected than if the New York Times printed it. It’s called libel and it is black letter law. My reading is that Palin’s attorneys put the press on notice that if they report untrue rumor as fact (i.e. libel her), there will be consequences. AND THERE SHOULD BE.

Predictably, we’ll see the typical inarticulate responses to the Palin tactic, like calling her (and I quote) “a pathetic piece of sh*t”, because for all their bloviation about how erudite their side is, all the liberals can muster is to call names and print defamatory rumors about their opponents. This is the absolute best they can do. They won in November, but they can’t even win with class.

I have my issues with Palin, especially not fulfilling her term. If she ran for an office, she should complete her duty to the citizens of Alaska. However, I will not tell people to “get f*cking real” or attack her looks or her family. And if I post a defaming statement on the internet, you can be DAMN sure I’ll back it up with rock solid facts. Would that the owner of this blog be as concerned about Palin’s 1st amendment rights as he is about the right of ill-informed bloggers to mouth off recklessly and anonymously, results be damned.

JackSombra (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Would that the owner of this blog be as concerned about Palin’s 1st amendment rights “
Ahh so unfortunate, you were doing so well until the last sentence when you showed you don’t even know what the first amendment is.

To summarise

* Free exercise of religion
* Freedom of speech
* Freedom of the press
* Peaceably assemble
* Right to petition
* Blocking Gov. from establishing an official religion (something it seems most conservatives would like to see overturned)

* It does not cover shutting up anyone who does not agree with you or who says something about you that you do not like

If anything Palin is trying to violate others 1st amendment rights, mainly freedom of speech and freedom of the press

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

To bad you simply do not understand the relationship between the first and second amendment.

The First is about freedom. The second is responsibility.

For a real world explanation reference the Arron Burr / Alexander Hamilton debate.

In your real world Hamilton was defeated and Burr left so morally wounded that he became a pariah.

Reed Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let me help you

“Ahh so unfortunate, you were doing so well until the last sentence when you showed you don’t even know what the first amendment is.”

Oh, please. If I have to connect the dots for you, I will. The doctrine of freedom of speech sourced in Amendment I is the foundation for the prohibition of libelous statements and, by extension, provides the basis for redress against such action. Palin is asserting her right to freedom from slander and her willingness to use the courts to attain satisfaction should her rights be violated.

Far from “shutting up anyone who does not agree with you or who says something about you that you do not like,” Palin, by my reading of her attorney’s letter, is asserting her right to be protected from slanderous statements. A bit proactively and arguably overzealously, but given the nasty treatment she’s received from the craven cheap-shotters on the left, not surprising.

Put simply in deference to you, Jack, slander is a first amendment issue and Palin’s endeavor to preempt it is also within her rights to speak freely. Period.

“If anything Palin is trying to violate others 1st amendment rights, mainly freedom of speech and freedom of the press”

That is absurd. There is no first amendment protection for spreading false information. This statement appears in the second paragraph of the letter from Palin’s attorneys:

“…several unscrupulous people have asserted false and defamatory allegations that the “real” reasons for Governor Palin’s resignation stem from an alleged criminal investigation pertaining to the construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex.”

This is the premise upon which the letter is based. Notice the word “false”. It is not a violation of anyone’s first amendment rights to prevent them from creating, repeating or propagating lies. If members of the press, bloggers or print, wish to report on corruption and illegality, they have to be able to prove the veracity of their charges or be prepared to face legal remedies. That is the law.

It appears to me that the context of this blog is more concerned with circling the wagons ’round Anonymous Cowards and others who want to strike from a safe distance, when it should be concerned with the truth. If Gov. Palin is guilty of wrongdoing, that should be discovered and determined through due process, not the idle speculation of bloggers whose real motivation is not justice, but ideology. I would like to see a vigorous defense of Palin’s rights to battle her detractors should they be lying rather than another “We can do whatever we want! We’re on the Internets!” piece.

dorp says:

Re: Re: Re: Let me help you

Oh, please. If I have to connect the dots for you, I will. The doctrine of freedom of speech sourced in Amendment I is the foundation for the prohibition of libelous statements and, by extension, provides the basis for redress against such action. Palin is asserting her right to freedom from slander and her willingness to use the courts to attain satisfaction should her rights be violated.

You sir, are a moron. First amendment only applies to government’s attempts to control personal freedom of expression. It has nothing to do with libelous statements of one person against the other. There is no inherent “right” from slander and you are free to check the Constitution itself or any of the amendments for text claiming otherwise. The fundamental lack of understanding of the document you claim to be defending is quite amusing.

Reed Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Let me help you

When I speak of rights, I don’t always mean Constitutional rights. Every time the word “right” is used in reference to one’s freedoms, liberties, protections, etc., it isn’t necessarily spelled out in the Constitution. You need to learn to make the distinction.

We have these things called “laws” and some of them grant us legal rights. A person is within his legal rights to sue a slanderer if he can prove the action meets the legal standard. A property owner has the right to build a structure on his land within limits. These may not be Constitutionally protected rights, but the terminology is the same. Sorry if I confused you…I’ll use smaller words next time.

Interestingly, you don’t seem to be taking the others on this board to task for their claim that Palin (acting as a private citizen in this matter) is attempting to abridge the freedom of the press through legal means, but I guess that’s to be expected.

Michael L. Slonecker says:

Mr. Masnick,

I is indeed unfortunate that your article is engendering political commentary, and not comments directed to its substance.

Quite frankly, I find the “press release” by her counsel to be out of the ordinary and an exercise in futility. Since New York Times v. Sullivan it is abundandtly clear the defamation actions by “public figure defamees” against the press are well nigh impossible to successfully prosecute to a favorable judgment…and the press is only too well aware of this. The plaintiff’s standard of proof is set at such a high level that the likelihood or prevailing is clearly a rarity execept in the most egregious of circumstances.

Thus, in my view all that is being accomplished by the “press release” is little more than a “toothless tiger” serving no useful purpose other than “shining more light” on the matter and virtually ensuring that it will continue being the subject of rampant speculation; your so-called “Streisand Effect”.

We may disagree on many matters, but most certainly this is not one of them.

Bryan Price (profile) says:

Dead! Spelled D-E-D!

That’s a line from Rocky Horror Picture Show, not a comment about Palin’s family (like I know some people would consider it!). But that’s how I feel about Palin’s chances in 2012 (not that I thought she would have had that great a chance by staying in the full term at least…)

The whole thing reminds me of that movie, because it is so surreal.

I think Mike is correct, that this is a form of the Streisand Effect.

It does prove that everybody has the right to sue somebody regardless of whether they are right or wrong about.

JackSombra (profile) says:

“When I speak of rights, I don’t always mean Constitutional rights.”
Yet you specifically mention which law/amendment you believe was violated…and get it wrong

If you had just actually kept it to “rights” you would not have looked such a fool, but you did what the far right do time and time again, bring the constitution and the bill of rights, as if they were holy grails, into the argument and either get it totally wrong or twist things so much that black is white and white is black
(and it is generally only the far right, not your average middle of the road republican)

Here is simple facts:
Palin got an easy ride at the start (all the press could go on about for weeks was how she was good looking, hocky mom, great speaker, Mccains ace in the hole, so forth), then she did a handful of interviews, ended up looking totally stupid/ignorant, got called on it by the press, so she tossed a hissy fit and refused to do any more interviews.

Press then did what they also do when someone they want to focus on has turned nasty and will not oblige their desire for more column inches, they dig up dirt

She brought on the negative publicity on herself and continues to do so.

Now how anyone can say with a straight face that that someone who cannot even manage the press for a week or two (it was actually about 5 weeks but 3 in the middle she was basiclly “incommunicado” and she had some of the best advisers in the business) is good enough to run a country and handle its internal and international politics is beyond me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Come on, guys. Let's help out this fresh piece of humanity!

Whenever I have a serious disagreement with somebody on the net, I start with complaints to the website editor, organizing mail campaigns, and call for their removal from the net. Phoning their employer to get him fired.

Sometimes I get laughed at, and you may too! But don’t worry, Sarah. What you need to do then is to go the daily papers. Most modern reporters are top-notch experts who will understand the net, and the problems, perfectly.

You betcha that they will print careful, reasoned stories without any errors at all, and surely represent the situation properly to the public. This usually results in the public acting wisely, as they are also fully cognizant of the subtle nature of net society.

If this ever happens to you, just remember, papers never sensationalize or distort, so be sure to point out things like racism and sexism wherever they might exist. You got to be that bulldog hockey mom. Be sure as well that they understand that all things on the net, particularly insults, are absolutely meant literally.

Link what transpires on the net to the causes of the Holocaust, if possible. If regular papers won’t take the story, you gotta go to a tabloid paper — they are always interested in good stories.

So Sarah, by arranging all this free publicity for the net, you’ll become very well known. People on the net will wait in eager anticipation for, and you’re input and refer to you constantly. You’ll get more mail than you ever dreamed possible — the ultimate in internet success.

PT (profile) says:

Speculation is only to be expected

When a prominent politician steps down, whatever party, whatever country, there’s always a back story. No matter what prompted them to seek high office in the first place – money, power, or perhaps just pride – they never voluntarily get off the gravy train, and nobody believes the standard lame excuses like “wanting to spend more time with the family”. The more public the official, the more the public interest. Ms Palin’s back story will emerge in due course, and her misguided attempts to suppress speculation are only fanning suspicions that she has something juicy to hide. A more astute politician would shut up and lay low until the media loses interest.

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

known coward says:

yes the preemptive strike is


But it is understandable as badly as she has been treated by the press either mainstream media or the bloggers. The press was not fair to her, (i do not think the press was fair to Hillary either during the primaries either, so this is just not a republican thing). And Ms. Palin wants it to stop.

I do agree that as a public figure she sets herself up for such abuse, but that does not mean she has to like it, or take it.

dorp says:

Re: yes the preemptive strike is

I do agree that as a public figure she sets herself up for such abuse, but that does not mean she has to like it, or take it.

Only part of that is correct. She doesn’t have to like it, but she does have to take it and accept that there is very little she can do about it. It’s not like it’s a big surprise that being a politician comes with high degree of scrutiny.

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