Fifteen months ago, Richard N. Perle very publicly promised to sue Seymour M. Hersh for libel in an English court over Hersh’s investigative profile, “Lunch With the Chairman,” published in The New Yorker.
When Perle made his threat, I denounced him as a libel tourist for exporting his lawsuit to England, where libel law favors plaintiffs, rather than bringing the suit in an American court. I also predicted that Perle wouldn’t file before the one-year statute of limitations ran out because his case was groundless. For the next 12 months, I rode Perle like a herring-gutted nag in this column. Every time he surfaced in the news—which turned out to be about once a month—I penned a fresh installment of the “Richard Perle Libel Watch,” daring him to sue.
On the first anniversary of his libel threat, the bully Perle chickened out. Citing the advice of his attorneys, Perle told the New York Sun (March 12, 2004) that instead of a filing in an English docket, he would try his case in the court of public opinion. The Sun reported:
Mr. Perle will plan to make available either on the Web or through a news conference 80 to 90 pages of transcripts from his lawyer’s interviews with individuals interviewed by Mr. Hersh that he said “make it absolutely clear that his reporting in his article is false,” Mr. Perle said. “With the benefit of that information I would expect The New Yorker to make a correction.”
As a scholar of journalism and a distinguished fellow in Perlean studies, I would very much like to see those transcripts. Christ knows I could squeeze another Perle column out of them. So where are they? It can’t possibly take three months to rent some server space and upload 90 pages of text to a Web site.
Maybe Perle’s stumbling block is technological. If that’s the case, Perle can messenger or e-mail the transcripts to me, and I’ll get them posted on the Web overnight. I’ll even send the URL for the transcript pages to David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, so he can weigh whether a correction is in order.
If you’re reading, Mr. Perle, my e-mail address is email@example.com. I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience. If not, you’ll be hearing from me. Frequently.
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