I picked up this excellent advisory from a law firm, McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, on Twitter.
It covers what defamation is and what they explain to clients about suing–the whys and why nots. With so much naked stuff out there on the internet, it’s good for any of us to be reminded about the fuzzy issue of defamation.
There’s a paragraph in this firm’s “drawbacks” section citing one thing I learned years ago, when I worked for extremely well-known lawyers whom a columnist in the reprehensible New York Post went after. I read it and was furious, as were maybe two of the lawyers libeled. (And it was libel, no question.)
The third lawyer? What I bolded below was the essence of what he explained to me about why they should not sue:
MORE PUBLICITY. It is an ironic truth that bringing a defamation lawsuit gives further publicity to the false statements that started it. Once the false statements appear in a pleading filed with the court (as they must in the complaint describing the claim), news media are free to republish the statements when reporting on the case. I sometimes tell clients the story about the congressman whose name appeared on a list of the top ten dumbest congressmen: he held a news conference the next day to deny it.