After Donald Trump’s attorneys sent the New York Times a letter threatening litigation Wednesday night, the paper of record has responded with what appears to be an impenetrable defense: Donald Trump’s reputation is too fucked up to be libeled.
The paper Wednesday published an article detailing the accounts of two women who say they were sexually assaulted by the Republican nominee for president. One woman, Jessica Leeds, says Trump forcibly groped her during a flight in the 1980s; another, Rachel Crooks, says Trump kissed her without consent on an elevator in Trump Tower.
In response, Trump went apoplectic, shouting at a Times reporter asking for comment that she was a “disgusting human being,” and told her, “None of this ever took place,” adding, “I don’t do it. I don’t do it. It was locker room talk.”
Then Trump’s lawyers with the law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP issued an essentially meaningless letter demanding the paper retract its “libelous article.”
The Times’ response is simple—you can’t libel someone whose reputation is as bad as Trump’s.
“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr Trump has bragged about his non-consensual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing room. He has acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a ‘piece of ass,’” the Times’ lawyers write. “Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”
The letter also points out the story was a matter of public interest; newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern. If only that made a difference when a rich man doesn’t like the content...