“Mrs. Trump’s counsel in the U.S. and the U.K. have stated unequivocally that the allegations about the modeling agencies are false,” the newspaper and companion online site stated.
The retraction and apology appeared yesterday in The Daily Mail online.
Melania, real name Melanija Knavs, was born in a small town in Slovenia when it was still part of Communist Yugoslavia.
Although she speaks five languages, she dropped out of college after a year to sign as a model at 18 with a Milan, Italy agency.
Early in her career, she posed nude in European magazines, which isn’t at all that uncommon in Europe, where nudity is more accepted.
It could pose a problem, however, for Trump’s campaign among conservative evangelicals. Her old photos have been widely circulated during the campaign.
Melania worked as a model in Milan and Paris, before relocating to New York City in 1996. Questions also have been raised over whether she had the proper visa to work in the United States, but she maintains that her paperwork was always in order.
That issue surfaced in the campaign because of candidate Trump’s tough stance on illegal immigration.
Last month, new questions were raised about Melania’s background largely originating out of her home country of Slovenia.
On Aug. 20, The Daily Mail newspaper published a story titled: “Racy photos, and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump.”
The newspaper characterized its reporting this way:
The article discussed whether allegations being made about Melania Trump could negatively affect her husband Donald Trump’s presidential bid. Among other things, the article noted that allegations have been made in a book available on Amazon about a modeling agency where Mrs. Trump worked in Milan being ‘something like a gentleman’s club,’ and an article published by Suzy, a Slovenian magazine, alleged that Mrs. Trump’s modeling agency in New York, run by Paolo Zampolli, ‘operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients.'”
In The Daily Mail online, the story ran under the headline: “Naked photo shoots, and troubling questions about visas that won’t go away: The VERY racy past of Donald Trump’s Slovenian wife.”
Trump lawyer Charles Harder had promised to take legal action over the articles, calling them “100 percent false, highly damaging to her reputation, and personally hurtful.” according to The Daily Beast.
The newspaper company said it “did not intend to state or suggest that these allegations are true, nor did it intend to state or suggest that Mrs. Trump ever worked as an ‘escort’ or in the ‘sex business.'”
The article noted that there was “no support” for the allegations and provided adamant denials from Trump’s spokesperson and from Mr. Zampolli.
At the time of publication, Melania Trump threatened to sue The Daily Mail, Politico and at least eight other news outlets for defamation, her lawyer said.
She has since filed against the site and a Maryland blogger. The blogger issued a similar retraction, Aug. 22.
But in a statement posted on the site yesterday, blogger Webster G. Tarpley takes a stand on the First Amendment.
He posted the following:
“Melania Trump’s lawsuit against me is without merit. Mrs. Trump is a public figure actively engaged in the Trump for president campaign. We are confident that Mrs. Trump will not be able to meet her high burden of proving the statements published about her on my website were defamatory in any way. Her lawsuit is a blatant attempt to intimidate not only me but journalists of all stripes into remaining silent with regard to public figures. This lawsuit is a direct affront to First Amendment principles and free speech in our democratic society.”
So far, no other major publication is known to have retracted their stories. But UK libel laws are far less strict than in the United States, especially involving public figures.
Trump has vowed to change all that if elected president. During a Texas rally he asserted that he would “open up” federal libel laws to make it easier for celebrities and wealthy moguls to sue news outlets.
Already, right-wing pundits like Roger Stone are calling on Trump to close media outlets, like CNN.
Trump has used lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits throughout his business career against rivals and contractors, who claim he hasn’t paid his bills.
During the campaign, he has already threatened to sue publications like The Washington Post and The New York Times.
A cloud has already been cast over The First Amendment by Silicon Valley mogul Peter Theil, who secretly bankrolled a lawsuit against Gawker to punish the site financially for outing him as gay in 2007.
Gawker was forced to declare bankruptcy after a Florida jury awarded former pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan $140 million for invasion of privacy. The case is under appeal.
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