by Virginia Lawyers Weekly
Washington lobbyist Vicki L. Iseman has filed a $27 million defamation lawsuit against The New York Times for a February article about Iseman and her relationship with Sen. John McCain.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond on Tuesday, alleges the article falsely communicated that Iseman and McCain had an illicit “romantic” relationship in 1999 when he was chair of the Senate Commerce Committee and she was a lobbyist representing clients before Congress.
The suit also names the executive editor of the Times, its Washington bureau chief and four reporters who wrote the story as defendants.
William Keller, the paper’s executive editor, did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment on the suit.
Richmond lawyer W. Coleman Allen Jr. and Rodney M. Smolla, dean of the Washington & Lee law school and a First Amendment scholar, represent Iseman. The story was first reported online by Virginia Lawyers Weekly, an LIBN sister publication.
The 36-page complaint charges that the story implies an “unprofessional relationship” between Iseman and McCain.
Both Iseman and McCain denied any improper relationship. However, the public viewed the story as being about an affair, according to the suit, which cites the post- publication remarks of 10 different commentators across the political spectrum. In each case, their comments about the story assumed it was about an alleged affair, the lawyers noted.
The Times’ own public editor, Clark Hoyt, published what Allen called a “blistering attack” on the Times’ decision to publish the original Iseman article.
The suit claims that Iseman suffered damage to her mental, emotional and physical health. The lawyers noted that she continues to work as a lobbyist in Washington, for a firm based in Arlington. They said they anticipate developing their case on damages as the matter moves forward.
The piece was published at the height of the primary season last winter, and, the suit states, the defendants knew that it would “reverberate around the world.”
“In their attack on Senator McCain, the [defendants] were willing to sacrifice Ms. Iseman as acceptable collateral damage, recklessly indifferent to the avalanche of scorn, derision and ridicule Ms. Iseman would suffer,” the suit charges.
Iseman waited to file the suit until after the presidential election, in an effort to avoid influencing its outcome, her lawyers said.
The NY Times “Chickens Have Come To Roost.” Last February the NY Times wrote a smear piece which said in part that Lobbyist Viki Iseman’s relationship with Senator John McCain was not exactly professional. The Times article was so bogus that its own public editor, Clark Hoyt wrote a piece bashing the story.
The Suit charges that the Times trashed MS Iseman’s reputation just to damage McCain’s political aspirations. She is asking for $27 Million. Here’s hoping that she gets that and much more. Full story below: