Trig Palin: Times skirts around libel law

I thought this was interesting phraseology in today’s Times Online:

Sarah Palin hit by internet rumours over fifth child

[…] If Mrs Palin, a conservative mother of five, ever doubted that landing on a national presidential ticket would open her to the harshest of spotlights and smear tactics, she also awoke yesterday to utterly unfounded internet rumours that her fifth child, born in April with Down’s syndrome, was actually her 17-year-old daughter’s.

Note the phrasing “utterly unfounded rumours”, which looks like the Times’ lawyers have had a go at the copy before it got published. (Note for people outside the UK: British libel law is heavily weighted in favour of the plantiff, which is why the UK is a favourite venue for “libel shopping”.)

I would say — and this is an utterly uninformed guess — that on the evidence we have, there’s roughly a 90% probability that Trig Palin is Sarah Plain’s child; and a 10% probability that Trig is Bristol’s.

On the subject of the unusual name — I mean Bristol, not Trig — would I be right in guessing that most Americans are not aware what “Bristol” refers to in Cockney rhyming slang? Bristol has a nice pair of Bristols, in any case.

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6 Responses to Trig Palin: Times skirts around libel law

  1. SIENNA HOLMES says:

    A POL’S FAMILY ISN’T A PRIVATE MATTER WHEN THE POL HAS GOTTEN ELECTED BY ESPOUSING FAMILY VALUES AND THEN IT TURNS OUT THAT HER FAMILY MAY NOT HAVE ANY.

  2. cabalamat says:

    Sienna Holmes: A POL’S FAMILY ISN’T A PRIVATE MATTER WHEN THE POL HAS GOTTEN ELECTED BY ESPOUSING FAMILY VALUES

    I agree, to some extent.

  3. harebell says:

    Reason that the Times might have put those words in was because it might not have been true.
    Having read the Daily Kos website it was a series of connected assumptions with some precarious evidence. While they were not utterly unfounded they certainly were not based on decent evidence.

  4. cabalamat says:

    Harebell: Reason that the Times might have put those words in was because it might not have been true.

    Maybe. But I’m sure the Times prints things that aren’t true every day — as do other newspapers — without resorting to legalistically defensive wording.

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Remember the slams John McCain made on Chelsea Clinton in 1998? It’s a decade late for him to apologize, but if he wants people to lay off of Palin and her family, he needs to start setting an example.

    So, by McCain’s actions, Palin’s family is fair game. It’s only our extreme discretion, and our faith that truth and quality will out, that keeps us from making a lot more fun at her expense.

    Her book-banning at the public library, however, has nothing to do with family.

  6. arugulagulag says:

    I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that the right wing has mastered controlling the entire political narrative and all we can do is keep up. They hit hard over and over and over on the same crap, avoid the issues like the plague, and if we try anything on them they get to play victim.

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