J. SKELLY WRIGHT, Circuit Judge:
This appeal presents for consideration in a summary judgment context an application of the public official libel principle enunciated in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686 (1964). Appellee, a United States Congressman from New York, sued the Washington Post and its syndicated columnist, Drew Pearson, for alleged libelous information appearing in two of Pearson's columns (appendices to this opinion) published in the Post. Without surrendering the defense of truth on the merits, the Post moved for summary judgment on the ground that the record raised no genuine issue as to actual malice on its part. The District Court, although "aware that there is substantial ground for a difference of opinion as to the law which we have cited in supporting this holding," distinguished Times
The governing rule of law, announced in New York Times, is that public officials may sue for libel only when they can demonstrate the statement was made with "actual malice," which is defined to mean publication of false statements with actual knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity. In Garrison v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 64, 74, 85 S.Ct. 209, 216, 13 L.Ed.2d 125 (1964), the Court refined its standard, stating that "only those false statements made with the high degree of awareness of their probable falsity demanded by New York Times may be the subject of either civil or criminal sanctions." And in Henry v. Collins, 380 U.S. 356, 357, 85 S.Ct. 992, 13 L.Ed.2d 892 (1965), the Court reversed on the certiorari papers a judgment based upon an instruction allowing the jury to infer malice from the falsity and libelous nature of a statement, pointing out this instruction allowed the jury to find malice from "intent to inflict harm" rather than from "intent to inflict harm through falsehood."
The obvious purpose of these cases is to create a rule of law more restrictive for public official plaintiffs than the pre-Times practice of allowing juries to infer malice from the face of defamatory publications. E. g., Ross v. Esquire, Inc., 2 Cir., 94 F.2d 75, 77 (1938). Malice, under the pre-Times practice, was equated with hostility, vindictiveness or negligent disregard of reputation. Under the Times test false statements made with these motives alone are not actionable; maliciousness may be shown only through knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of truth or falsity. It is in light of this standard that the evidence in this case must be examined to determine whether summary judgment should have been granted.
A motion for summary judgment should be granted where it is shown that no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In deciding whether a genuine issue of fact is raised in any case, a number of general considerations are relevant. First, the right to trial by jury is at stake, so courts must be ever careful to grant summary judgment only when no issue of fact is controverted or turns upon a choice between permissible inferences from undisputed evidence. See Pierce v. Ford Motor Co., 4 Cir., 190 F.2d 910, cert. denied, 342 U.S. 887, 72 S.Ct. 178, 96 L.Ed. 666 (1951). This need for care has given rise to the valid generalizations that summary judgment must be denied when there is "doubt" whether an issue of fact has been raised, and that summary judgment is not usually appropriate when the issue raised concerns a subjective state of mind.
These generalizations do not, however, relieve courts of their responsibility to decide whether a genuine issue of fact exists. That doubt concerning the issue should be resolved against the movant may assist courts in disposing of troubling cases after deliberation, but it provides no assistance in the deliberative process itself. That state of mind should generally be a jury issue does not mean it should always be so in all contexts,
In the First Amendment area, summary procedures are even more essential. For the stake here, if harassment succeeds, is free debate. One of the purposes of the Times principle, in addition to protecting persons from being cast in damages in libel suits filed by public officials, is to prevent persons from being discouraged in the full and free exercise of their First Amendment rights with respect to the conduct of their government. The threat of being put to the defense of a lawsuit brought by a popular public official may be as chilling to the exercise of First Amendment freedoms as fear of the outcome of the lawsuit itself, especially to advocates of unpopular causes. All persons who desire to exercise their right to criticize public officials are not as well equipped financially as the Post to defend against a trial on the merits. Unless persons, including newspapers, desiring to exercise their First Amendment rights are assured freedom from the harassment of lawsuits, they will tend to become self-censors. And to this extent debate on public issues and the conduct of public officials will become less uninhibited, less robust, and less wide-open, for self-censorship affecting the whole public is "hardly less virulent for being privately administered." Smith v. People of State of California, 361 U.S. 147, 154, 80 S.Ct. 215, 219, 4 L.Ed.2d 205 (1959).
The Supreme Court has made clear that public officials, including Congressmen, are immune from liability for statements, however false and defamatory, made in the course of their official duty. Barr v. Matteo, 360 U.S. 564, 79 S.Ct. 1335, 3 L.Ed.2d 1434 (1959). The other side of that coin is that public officials do not have the same protection from libelous statements as private victims. "It would give public servants an unjustified preference over the public they serve, if critics of official conduct did not have a fair equivalent of the immunity granted to the officials themselves." New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, supra, 376 U.S. at 282-283, 84 S.Ct. at 727.
The evidence on the motion for summary judgment shows that Pearson has been writing a daily column for many years and that this column is published in more than 600 newspapers with a daily circulation of over forty million. The Post filed depositions of three employees and affidavits by its editor and an assistant managing editor indicating that before publication each of the Post personnel deposing had read one or both of the columns and had no reason to believe or evidence causing them to suspect the information contained in them was false. In opposition Keogh filed the two Pearson columns and his own affidavit. The columns identified Keogh specifically and, according to the complaint, intended to convey that Keogh took bribes which influenced his official actions and votes, and that he had attempted to bribe a federal judge "but was spared from prosecution because of his close political association with the President and Attorney General of the United States." Keogh's affidavit neither related to the information contained in the columns nor contradicted the depositions and affidavits of the Post personnel. It attempted to demonstrate, through a series of excerpts from various magazine and newspaper articles, that Pearson's "reputation for accuracy and veracity" is such "that mere reliance upon his word is grossly negligent and reckless."
It is undisputed that no issue of fact exists here as to publication with actual knowledge of falsity. The unimpeached Post personnel depositions are dispositive of this issue. Orvis v. Brickman, 90 U.S.App.D.C. 266, 196 F.2d 762 (1952). Rather, Keogh asserts the columns were published with reckless disregard for their truth or falsity. His principal argument on appeal, accepted by the District Court, is that the "character and content of the publication itself" is sufficient to take the case to the jury on actual malice, in light of the Post's failure to check the accuracy of Pearson's columns before publication.
Moreover, the alleged libels here are no more serious than those in Times, Garrison and other cases. The advertisement in Times charged police brutality, intimidation, violence, bombing of Dr. Martin Luther King's home, and assault upon Dr. King's person. In Garrison the libel charged that all eight of the state criminal district court judges in New Orleans were influenced by racketeers. But even if it were tenable to argue that the charges here are "more serious" than those in Times, the seriousness of a charge, in itself, is not probative of recklessness with respect to the truth. The most serious charges, which if anything we have the most reason to avoid deterring, may be made responsibly, with no hint of anything contrary to common knowledge, while less serious charges may be made rashly, with internal inconsistencies, citing facts contrary to common knowledge. And there is no basis, empirically or in view of Times, for the proposition that "more serious" charges are less likely to be true than "less serious" charges. "No matter how gross the untruth, the New York Times rule deprives a defamed public official of any hope for legal redress without proof that the lie was a knowing one, or uttered `in reckless disregard of the truth.'" Rosenblatt v. Baer, supra Note 5, 383 U.S. at 92, 86 S.Ct. at 679 (concurring opinion of Mr. Justice Stewart).
Finally, Keogh presses the point that his affidavit contains evidence which proves that Pearson's reputation for veracity is such that the jury should have been permitted to decide whether the Post employees, despite their affidavits, should have known better than to print Pearson's columns without verifying his contentions.
The affidavit, however, is clearly inadmissible and appears to have been treated as such by the District Court.
Even if the affidavit were admissible, or had been treated as such by the District Court as appellant contends, still no genuine issue of fact would be raised. It is true that a publisher has reason to suspect a publication's accuracy where he knows or should know that the author or endorser is persistently inaccurate.
The significance of this evidence must be judged in light of the relevant standard of law. As the Court indicated in Times, evidence offered in a libel case might be sufficient to raise a jury question as to a publisher's negligence but insufficient to raise one as to his actual malice.
There simply is no convincing, realistic basis for the position that newspapers in circumstances similar to the Post's should bear greater responsibilities of verification than the Supreme Court required of the New York Times, where information available from published articles in the Times' own files "demonstrated the falsity of the allegations." New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, supra, 376 U.S. at 263, 84 S.Ct. at 717. Verification of syndicated news reports and columns is a time-consuming process, a factor especially significant in the newspaper business where news quickly goes stale, commentary rapidly becomes irrelevant, and commercial opportunity in the form of advertisements can easily be lost. In many instances considerations of time and distance make verification impossible. Thus the newspaper is confronted with the choice of publication without verification or suppression. Verification is also a costly process, and the newspaper business is one in which economic survival has become a major problem, made increasingly grave by the implications of this fact for free debate. We should be hesitant to impose responsibilities upon newspapers which can be met only through costly procedures or through self-censorship designed to avoid the risks of publishing controversial material. The costliness of this process would especially deter less established publishers from taking chances and, since columns such as Pearson's are highly popular attractions, competition with publishers who can afford to verify or to litigate would become even more difficult.
THE WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
THE WASHINGTON POST
Tuesday, December 12, 1961
BOB KENNEDY IN EMBARRASSING SPOT
By Drew Pearson
The worst New York judicial bribery scandal in the past quarter of a century illustrates the embarrassing predicament in which the President has put his brother by making him Attorney General.
The details of this scandal were published in this column six weeks ago — Oct. 29 — and need not be repeated here.
The important fact which causes embarrassment, however, is that the brother of Judge Vincent J. Keogh, charged with splitting a $35,000 bribe, is Congressman Eugene Keogh. The Congressman was one of the strong workers for John F. Kennedy's nomination at Los Angeles and necessarily was investigated, because of reports that he had been approached by the fixers. Attorney General Kennedy announced that he was not involved.
Republicans are bound to point out that in the preconvention period when Bobby Kennedy was his brother's campaign manager and was working night and day to get him nominated, Congressman Keogh was one of his best supporters. In fact, Keogh was the New York spokesman for the Kennedy forces.
Now, during the investigation of the Keoghs, the man who worked intimately with the judge's brother sits in judgment on a man who helped make his brother's election as President of the United States possible.
This position is fair neither to Attorney General Kennedy nor to Congressman Keogh and is why a campaign manager should not hold the job of Attorney General.
Bobby Kennedy, who didn't really want the job but who has been a good Attorney General, is of course following plenty of precedent. Gen. Eisenhower appointed the former chairman of the Republic National Committee and campaign manager for Governor Dewey, Herbert Brownell, as Attorney General. Mr. Truman appointed Howard McGrath, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as Attorney General.
This is because the Attorney General has become the chief political arm of every recent administration. No longer is the Post Office the department that hands out the political plums. Civil Service for postmasters has changed all that. The really big political power, with the right to prosecute or not prosecute, pardon or not pardon, push an income tax case or not push it, is the Justice Department.
SPOKESMAN FOR FRANCO
Latterly Congressman Keogh has won a reputation as President Kennedy's staunchest New York supporter on Capitol Hill. Earlier, he was known as a spokesman for dictator Franco of Spain.
Keogh was elected to Congress in 1938, and for 11 years took no appreciable interest in Spain.
Then suddenly, after 11 silent years in Congress, Keogh became the champion of dictator Franco. He littered the Congressional Record with statements and editorials favorable to Spain.
This began in 1949. It was in 1949 also that Congressman Keogh was seen frequently in the company of Franco's lobbyist, Charles Patrick Clark, who draws $100,000 annually from the Spanish Embassy.
On Oct. 8, 1949, Congressman Keogh paid a visit to dictator Franco in Madrid.
Traveling on a Spanish train that night, Congressman Keogh was reported to have had $5000 stolen, together with his pants, when he hung the pants too near a window in a sleeping car.
Prior to 1949, also, Congressman Keogh opposed the natural gas lobby and voted against the Rizley bill which would have hiked gas rates.
But in 1949, Keogh and Charley Clark, lobbyist for a gas pipeline company as well as for Spain, had become friendly and Keogh reversed himself.
At about this time, Congressman Keogh began to receive a series of checks from lobbyist Charley Clark. They were listed as payments by Clark for legal advice on a tax case which the Federal Government had against Silas E. Chambers of Miami. The first check was dated March 6, 1950, for $1500; another on March 24, 1950, was for $1000; April 5, $500; May 3, $500; and June 15, $1000.
In September, 1950, some months after the checks had passed, I handed the information to the Justice Department, whereupon both Keogh and Clark were quizzed by the FBI.
Immediately the Congressman wrote a letter to Clark, dated Oct. 31, 1950, which appeared to be aimed at alibiing his transaction. It stated:
"I have given further consideration to the propriety of my continuing to act as advisory counsel. Therefore, if it meets with your approval, I should ask you to consider that our firm has withdrawn and consider that the fee which you previously paid us will be in full."
According to Keogh, Clark had merely dealt with his New York law firm, Halpin, Keogh, and St. John, not with him. But when Clark was asked how Keogh had earned these fees he explained that Keogh had given very helpful advice.
"Then it was Keogh who advised you in this case?" Clark was asked.
"Yes," was the reply.
THE WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
THE WASHINGTON POST
Monday, February 19, 1962
TAX REFORM MOVES STIR UP LOBBYISTS
By Drew Pearson
Nothing brings out the lobbyists on Capitol Hill like tax reforms which might hit the pocketbook interests.
Once President Kennedy showed he was serious about tightening tax loopholes, lobbyists began swarming through the capitol corridors like tourists at cherry-blossom time.
The savings and loan people, for instance, called a convention in Washington at the same time their tax privileges came up for review by the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
The delegates were turned loose on Capitol Hill to bring pressure on their home-state Congressmen.
Adopting the same tactics, more than 1000 restauranteurs marched upon Washington to protest against cutting down expense-account deductions. They cried to their Congressmen that this proposal would put the champagne-caviar joints out of business.
Pickle producer H. J. Heinz organized a task force of 19 big companies to fight a proposed tax on their overseas subsidiaries. They hired public relations expert Anna Rosenberg, who has important Democratic connections, to mastermind their protest.
Other captains of industry, afraid to trust such an important matter to their hired lobbyists, have made personal pilgrimages to Capitol Hill to bring their influence to bear on the tax writers.
In fact, businessmen, bankers, industrialists, oilmen, and spokesmen for other special interests have been pouring into Washington to take up the cudgels against the tax changes.
He would also like to step up the depreciation rate by basing it upon the economic, rather than physical, life of manufacturing equipment.
These two measures would reduce tax revenue an estimated $2,800,000,000 a year. To make up for the anticipated loss, the President has asked Congress to close certain tax loopholes.
The most gaping is the tax exemption granted to savings and loan associations on 12 per cent of their revenues. If they were taxed the same as banks, the Treasury figures they should have paid $800 million in taxes last year. Instead, they paid less than $6 million.
The 44 savings and loan companies in the Greater Washington area, for example, paid less than $500 in taxes for the year.
To block Congress from increasing their tax load, the savings and loan boys have mounted a lobbying campaign that surpasses all others. They have wined and dined Congressmen, organized a Nationwide letter-writing campaign.
Glen Troop, chief lobbyist for the U.S. Savings and Loan League, has told Treasury men bluntly: "We intend to beat your brains out."
The restauranteurs have been almost as active in opposing the proposed 50 per cent cut in entertainment expenses that can be written off by businessmen.
They have invited the Congressmen, on whom they have been calling, to dine at their luxury eating places — on the house, of course.
Both groups have found a champion in Congressman Eugene Keogh, a power on the Ways and Means Committee, who has made a career out of representing the special interests.
A dapper Democrat who represents a "rough and tumble" Brooklyn district, Keogh actually lives outside his district, in the same swank apartment house in which the President's father, old Joe Kennedy, sometimes resides. But Keogh is more than a neighbor. He has close political ties to the Kennedys.
The President has sent word to him, however, through White House legislative chief Larry O'Brien to stop representing the special interests and start working for the public interest.
"You've had your fun," O'Brien told him. "Now the President would like you to help him put across his tax reforms."
Meanwhile, almost every company which has an overseas subsidiary has screamed to Congress against the President's plan to tax American companies at home on the profits they make abroad.
By equalizing the tax imbalance, Mr. Kennedy hopes to stop American companies from moving their operations overseas and taking jobs away from American workers.
Despite the Big Business pressure, many Congressmen are worried about this threat to employment. Even Senate Finance Chairman Harry Byrd of Virginia, who usually sides with Big Business, is cautious about opposing the President's plan.
"There is only one thing that terrifies the Congress — unemployment," he declared privately. "Congress will not tolerate unemployment."
Even the President's proposal to grant tax credits to manufacturers for modernizing their equipment is opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. However, they are losing the support of corporations they represent. The railroad, coal, textile, electronics, and machine tool industries have already endorsed the plan in defiance of the C. of C. and NAM.
Walter Heller, the President's chief economic adviser, suggested to aides that the two business groups are so accustomed to opposing Democratic proposals
The C. of C. and NAM, he said, won't have anything to do with a Democratic baby.
However, the public, which has no lobbyists on Capitol Hill, is taking increased interest in reforming the tax laws.
McGOWAN, Circuit Judge:
I concur in the result reached by Judge Wright, and in Parts I and II of his opinion. The inadequacies of the Keogh affidavit under Rule 56(e), Fed.R.Civ. P., leave the record in a state where there are only the columns themselves to be measured against the unimpeached assertions by the Post editorial personnel that they had, on reading the columns prior to publication, no reason to believe that they were false in any respect. This does not suggest a quantum of proof remotely approaching "the high degree of awareness of * * * probable falsity demanded by New York Times * * *", which the Supreme Court said in Garrison was essential to the successful maintenance by public officials of either civil or criminal actions for libel. The question before us essentially is: With the proof in this state, would Keogh have been entitled to get to the jury on the issue of a reckless disregard of the matter of truth or falsity?
Although the circumstances of the Supreme Court's rescue of the New York Times from the rigors of the law of libel as it was applied in Alabama have little resemblance to the setting of this case, the Court has appeared to persist in foreshortening very greatly the access of public officials to the jury in defamation claims. In a case like this, where the plaintiff has not made an effective tender of any evidence — other than the alleged libels themselves — bearing upon reckless disregard, I do not believe that the present decisions leave room for what could, at best, be sheer speculation by the jury on that issue.
WILBUR K. MILLER, Senior Circuit Judge, dissents.
This statement was re-echoed in White Motor Co. v. United States, 372 U.S. 253, 259, 83 S.Ct. 696, 9 L.Ed.2d 738 (1963). Summary judgment had been granted in both cases under an erroneous view of the law. In Poller the District Court ruled that, even if the defendant's motive and intent were to violate the Sherman Act, such motive was irrelevant since plaintiff's economic injury was caused by defendant's exercise of its legal rights. D.D.C., 174 F.Supp. 802, 805 (1959). This Court of Appeals affirmed at least partially upon the same reasoning. 109 U.S.App.D.C. 170, 174, 284 F.2d 599, 603 (1960). In White Motor Co. summary judgment was granted on the theory that defendant's actions amounted to a per se violation of the Sherman Act. The Supreme Court, in both cases, held that motive was relevant. Thus the Court's statements cannot be read as directed at a practice of granting summary judgment too often when motive is relevant, since the error in those cases lay in the legal rule applied by the lower courts. The Court did go on to analyze the evidence in Poller and ruled that summary judgment would be inappropriate under the proper legal standard. The evidence there of unlawful intent, however, was far more susbtantial than in this case. 368 U.S. at 469-473, 82 S.Ct. 486.
244 F.Supp. at 486.