More about defamation, with a thank you to Sarah Palin

As I told you, during one of my defendant’s depositions, I was accused of defaming them here on Sidebar.

This kind of accusation is usually the psychopathological defense known as “projection.” That is, in the new G.O.P. tradition, if you are doing nasty things to your opponent, make sure you get in there quick and accuse him of doing those nasty things to you. (“He hit me first!” That excuse doesn’t even work on the football field: as any football lover knows, the guy who retaliates and hits second gets the 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.)

It’s a right-wing perversion of the adage, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” So let’s assume that the defendants in my lawsuit have been busy defaming me to anyone who’ll listen.

In any case, I picked this up today from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Sarah Palin’s Anchorage attorney has written to Crown, saying that Joe McGinniss’s book THE ROGUE “defamed” the Palins and that both the publisher and author “clearly knew the statements were false [and] admitted they had no basis in fact or reality.” The letter advises “that a claim may be brought against you.” (Or national attention for the threat may turn out to suffice.) …

The foundation of the lawyer’s letter is an e-mail from January 27, 2011, allegedly written by McGinniss to a potential source (run on Andrew Breitbart’s site)[Now, would this be the same Andrew Breitbart who knows all about defamation because Shirley Sherrod is suing him for it? And will win her case.]. The posted text opens, “Legal review of my manuscript is underway and here’s my problem: no one has ever offered documentation of any of the lurid stories about the Palins.” Later, it says: “Thus–as Random House lawyers are already pointing out to me–nothing I can cite other than my own reporting rises above the level of tawdry gossip. The proof is always just around the corner, but that’s a corner nobody has been able to turn.”

Palin’s attorney claims “it is malicious for your company to publish a book where it, and the author, admit that they were fully aware the statements in the book were false, intended to be false, and were intended to harm.” He adds: “There is no evidence that Mr. McGinniss somehow magically discovered ‘new sources’ between January of this year and the present date. Certainly the book does not report any.”

Naturally, Crown sees it differently. In a statement, the publisher said, “After a thorough and careful examination of the book, including probing discussions with the author about his sources, we are confident that the reporting it contains is solid, reliable, and well-substantiated.” McGinniss tells Slate he “continued my reporting into June of this year.”

Let this be a lesson to all who wield the word “defamation” as a legal cause of action.  How many books do you think Palin’s loud accusations will sell …  for Joe McGinniss?

As I learned once from a very, very smart lawyer, when you sue someone for defamation, you just promote whatever it is they’re selling.

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