After the New York Times published an article featuring two women -- Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks -- who accused Donald Trump of touching them inappropriately, the real estate mogul threatened to sue for libel.
The New York Times responded in a letter on Thursday, which basically said, "Bring it. We dare you."
We welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.
The letter, written by an attorney for the Times, stated,
We did what the law allows. We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern. If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.
In short, the New York Times is not going to retract the story. They will not back down, no matter what Trump threatens to do.
It would be very difficult for Trump to win a libel case against the New York Times, given that he's a public figure running for president.
On this subject, the Times also made the case that they couldn't possibly ruin Trump's reputation more than he already has, particularly when it comes to women.
The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one's reputation... Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.
If you consider the many well-documented displays of misogyny from Trump – including a recent video in which he bragged about sexual assault – this is a fair point.
Since the video came out last Friday, a number of women have accused Trump of assault, even beyond the New York Times article.
It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices.
On Thursday, Trump described his accusers as "horrible people."
The events of the past week or so – and particularly the past 24 hours – seem to suggest that the next several weeks leading up to Election Day are going to be very contentious and ugly.