Exercising one of the freedoms Americans celebrate on Independence Day -- the freedom to threaten an ill-conceived lawsuit -- Alaska Governor Sarah Palin directed her lawyer to publish an open letter to Shannyn Moore, an Alaska blogger, radio personality, Huffington Post contributor, and frequent guest on MSNBC, threatening to file a defamation lawsuit against her. The letter also warned the Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and other news organizations that Palin would be "exploring [her] legal options" if they claimed "as 'fact' that Governor Palin resigned because she is 'under federal investigation' for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing."
The oddly worded four-page letter warns of severe consequences for news organizations that republish rumors suggesting Palin embezzled funds in the construction of a Wasilla, Alaska, sports arena. In the letter, Attorney Thomas Van Flein states:
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. This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law.
According to Politico, neither the New York Times nor The Washington Post "made any mention of the embezzlement rumors in their Saturday editions, but sources close to Palin consider the letter a warning shot to stay away from the topic."
Yesterday, Moore read a prepared statement in front of the governor's office in Anchorage, saying that she would not be silenced.
The governor's massive overreaction -on the Fourth of July no less- should make any reasonable person wonder what's wrong with her. The Lady protests way too much. Eventually we'll all find out why she really walked off the job.
Sarah Palin is a coward and a bully. What kind of politician attacks an ordinary American on the Fourth of July for speaking her mind? What's wrong with her? The First Amendment was designed to protect people like me from the likes of people like her. Our American Revolution got rid of kings. And queens, too. Am I jacked-up? You betcha.
Sarah Palin, if you have a problem with me, then sue me. Shannyn Moore will not be muzzled!
As we've noted when other politicians have threatened their critics with legal action, Palin's decision to issue an open letter all but ensures that the rumors will get wider attention.
(For more on the letter and any subsequent follow up, see our legal threats database entry, Palin v. Moore.)