Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Criticisms of the Obama camp's allegations toward Mitt Romney
Be careful, Ms. Parker
I am not a regular reader of Kathleen Parker’s columns — frankly I can’t recall ever reading even one — but after going through Parker’s column that appeared in the July 23 edition of The Seattle Times, I can understand why [“Obama’s camp on the Bainwagon,” Opinion]. I will not judge by this one article whether Parker’s pontifications hail from a conservative or liberal direction — although I have my suspicions as to which — but I will say that she is way off base on most of the items she wrote about.
First of all, it is obvious she has little, if any, understanding of libel/slander laws. They are quite a bit more complex than she purports them to be. It is not, for instance, defamation of any sort for a person to posit whether someone is or is not a felon. If that were the case, the courts would be overflowing with civil defamation cases by suspected criminals. Second, as a journalist, Parker should be aware of the standard set by case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). That case created the requirement that the alleged defamer must have acted with “actual malice” (a much higher standard than mere spite or ill will) against a public figure. Now did Stephanie Cutter’s statements rise to the level of actual malice? Well, Parker is certainly entitled to her opinion, but considering that Cutter uttered an opinion based on an “if-then” situation, I think not.
Finally, I am wondering if Parker is so forthcoming in her allegations — which could in themselves be considered defamation, at least by her own standards, as she pretty much unequivocally accuses Cutter of a civil offense — when statements, not opinions, about President Obama’s citizenship, allegiance to the U.S. and other such nonsense continue to circulate among the media and in the blogosphere? Or is she merely exercising the good old conservative tactic of applying a double standard?
Be careful, Ms. Parker, your right-wing colors are showing ...
— Jeffrey Izzo, Seattle