What do you do when a union president threatens you with a lawsuit for defamation?
When you are Gordon Norrie, publisher of the Edmonton Sun, you post a "we'll fight the suit" story online and include an audio tape recording of the comments in dispute.
TSF can't recall a newspaper answering a defamation threat with an online tape recording, but listen to the 55-second recording. It is likely to be Exhibit A if the lawsuit reaches court.
Yesterday's Edmonton Sun story says Doug O'Halloran, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, and Local 401 members served the paper with a notice of intent to sue for defamation last week.
The Sun says O'Halloran claims in the notice he was misrepresented in a June 5, 2007 story in which he stated the vast majority of his own union's members, on strike at the Palace Casino, "probably have an addiction to gambling to a degree but they can go there and they can play with the casino’s money."
The Sun says the notice of intent reads: "We are advised that at no time did Mr. O'Halloran state or suggest that Casino workers are gambling addicts, or 'likely' or 'probably' gambling addicts."
Norrie says the Edmonton Sun not only stands by the story, the interview between Sun reporter Jeremy Loome and O'Halloran was recorded by Loome.
A link to the audio clip for playback is below the online story.
The timely recording reminds us of Dick Chapman, a former veteran Toronto Sun reporter who taped every telephone interview and always had a drawer full of tapes.
We're not sure if Dick ever needed a recording to back up a story, but he certainly was prepared. Some of those tapes are probably collector items if he kept them.