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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Then Sue, Johnny

Now, I'm not a lawyer like some people but, so far as I know, a story which is "false" and "made up"  rises to the level of actual malice on the part of a news organization.  One might think that a highly-successful litigator might well take action against a news organization which was spreading a vicious and entirely untrue libel across the entire world.

I'm just saying.  It's probably also worth reading his exact words carefully:

"The story is false. It's completely untrue, ridiculous"

"I've been in love with the same women for 30-plus years and as anybody who's been around us knows, she's an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known"

Just reading it very carefully - I don't see anywhere where he specifically denies any sort of relationship with the woman in question.  And, further, reading all of this in a lawyerly way, "the story is false" could mean any number of things.  Similarly, telling us how much he loves his wife isn't actually all that relevant to the accusation at hand.

Posted by Adam T. Yoshida on October 11, 2007 in International Politics | Permalink


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why is this an issue here? who cares? this is junky stuff. there are more important things to talk about, no?

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-11 10:08:16 PM

You are a fool. When stupid, baseless accusations are made, some response is appropriate, but then you move on. Litigation in the middle of a campaign would be moronic. Maybe you'd do it, but then you would be a moron.

And you also desperately want to avoid a sound bite that can be damaging, so you avoid saying something the media would love to replay endlessly. "The story is false" is a clear, unambiguous denial (except to the thinking impaired). But saying "I did not have sex with that woman" would be the sound bite that would be significantly damaging.

Now why don't you go troll the airport mens room looking for your conservative friends. Trying to think is obviously too much for you.

Posted by: Rael | 2007-10-11 10:08:40 PM

why is this an issue here? who cares? this is junky stuff. there are more important things to talk about, no?

good night.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-11 10:09:03 PM

Gee, I thought he would be happy with this story, he and his wife can go on 60 minutes and deny it. She can stand by her man etc. Being unfaithful seems to be a requirement to be a democratic president, even if Jimmy Carter just lusted in his heart. JFK, Franklin D, Clinton, to name a few.

Posted by: MaryT | 2007-10-11 10:12:32 PM

Well Im not sure about suing for everything, but I think if the news reports something known to false and was meant to slander or defame, then yes, i think they should sue.

Posted by: Sean Whelan | 2007-10-11 11:37:59 PM

Shrillery doesn't care if it's true or not. She wanted to plant a seed of doubt in voters' minds - and in that she has succeeded.

And since she's chest-deep in similar rumours, this will lessen the negative reactions to her.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-12 7:42:34 AM

"The Clintonite who owns National Enquirer"

The political world has been holding its nose for the last twenty-four hours while peering at the weekly tabloid National Enquirer, which published a story yesterday alleging that presidential candidate John Edwards had an extra-marital affair.

"The story is false," Edwards told reporters in South Carolina today, according to a reporter who was there.

What the tabloid's readers, in politics and out, may not know is that a key owner of the Enquirer is a prominent New York investment banker and one of Hillary Clinton's key backers, Roger Altman. Altman was an official in the first Clinton administration, and his name is often mentioned as a possible Clinton Treasury Secretary.

The investment boutique which Altman founded and chairs, Evercore Partners, bought a controlling stake in American Media, which publishes the Enquirer, in 1999, which it still holds with a partner. Evercore's president, Austin Beutner, sits on American Media's Board of Directors, according to Evercore's website.

A spokesman for American Media, Richard Valvo, said in an email that Altman has "no involvement in editorial, ever." He said that Evercore owns 20% of the company through an investment fund. Altman didn't respond to an email seeking comment or to a message left with his secretary.

American Media has also published lurid and negative stories about the Clintons since its acquisition.

Yesterday's National Enquirer story was mirrored by a pair of stories in the Huffington Post -- whose public face, Arianna Huffington, is a harsh critic of Clinton. The Huffington Post stories implied that the Edwards campaign was concerned about its relationship with a film-maker, Reille Hunter, who had shot web videos for Edwards. The stories stopped short of directly suggesting the candidate had a relationship with her, something Mickey Kaus made explicit on Slate yesterday.

"The MSM seems to be strenuously trying to not report it," Kaus wrote, and indeed, aside from a disapproving link to Kaus's item on the website of the New Republic, and gleeful coverage on the gossip blog Wonkette, the story has mostly stayed out of the old-line press. But it's unclear whether that reluctance is the result of Clinton-era neurosis about the topic of sex, or a less fraught sense that there simply isn't much to report here, particularly in the case of a candidate who lacks the media wattage and poll numbers of his rivals.

The Enquirer story cites anonymous emails from the un-named woman allegedly involved to another un-named source.

But Hunter reportedly issued a disgusted denial of the stories earlier today, via a spokesperson quoted by the veteran blogger Jerome Armstrong on MyDD (Armstrong emailed Politico that the spokesman was her lawyer, Robert Gordon):

The innuendoes and lies that have appeared on the internet and in the National Enquirer concerning John Edwards are not true, completely unfounded and ridiculous....

When working for the Edwards camp, my conduct as well as the conduct of my entire team was completely professional.

This concocted story is just dirty politics and I want no part of it.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-12 7:49:43 AM

Oh - and David Kendall, one of the impeachment attorneys, also was counsel for the Enquirer.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-12 7:51:56 AM

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