Rashada v. New York Post (N.Y. trial court, Aug. 11, 2011), involved a libel claim brought by Melody Rashada against the New York Post and op-ed author Patrick Dunleavy based on what seems to be this article. The article focused on four Muslim terrorism suspects, and asked how they “were radicalized to the point where they’d even consider plotting to bomb synagogues in The Bronx and shoot down aircraft with missiles.” The article went on to say:
What stands out is the prison connection. All four defendants were former inmates. More important, all three imams at the mosque in Newburgh that the defendants attended after being released from prison had a connection with the prison system. Imams Salahuddin Muhammad, Hamin Rashada and Melody Rashada worked for the Department of Correctional Services. All had been hired by Warith Deen Umar — who for years headed ministerial services for the New York state prison system.
Rashada argued that this language, plus the title of the op-ed (“Converts to Terror: The Prison Chaplain Problem”), was defamatory. But the court disagreed, concluding that the suggestion of a possible connection between the chaplains and the terrorism suspects’ radicalization was nonactionable opinion and speculation, rather than a factual assertion (which could be libelous if false). “The article is painly intended to raise issues, rather than convey specific, objective facts about Rashada’s role in the radicalization of inmates…. [T]he article does not make any definitive accusations against Rashada, but rather the article suggests that the connection between the former inmates and the mosque should be investigated.”
I think this is probably right, because the op-ed was drawing an inference from accurately stated facts, rather than asserting that the author knows some undisclosed facts that support the implication he’s trying to draw. Here’s what the Restatement […]