A federal judge has issued a ruling in a defamation case brought against The New York Times by former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Though the jury is still deliberating, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff has already determined that that her legal team did not meet the standard of defamation set forth by the law.
Palin filed suit against the Times after it falsely suggested in a 2017 editorial that an ad circulated by Palin’s political-action committee triggered a mass shooting near Tucson, Arizona, in January 2011 that left six people dead and 13 wounded, the latter including then-U.S. Rep. Gabby Gifford, a Democrat.
“On the day of the editorial, a gunman had opened fire at a baseball field where GOP congressmen were practicing; Congressman Steve Scalise was seriously wounded and others were injured,” the Daily Wire reported.
The Times recalled on Monday, “The headline was ‘America’s Lethal Politics,’ and the editorial asked whether the Virginia shooting was evidence of how vicious American politics had become.”
“The paper’s editorial cited a ‘targets’ website created by Ms. Palin for the 2010 midterm elections that featured crosshairs over Democratic House districts, including Ms. Gifford’s. ‘The link to political incitement was clear,’ states a later-deleted line from the piece,” The Wall Street Journal reported at the time Palin filed her suit.
The judge noted on Monday, “This is an example of very unfortunate editorializing on the part of The Times,” but added, “my job is to apply the law. … The law sets a very high standard for actual malice, and in this case the court finds that that standard has not been met,” The Washington Post reported.
Also also said he’ll continue to let the jury deliberate to a conclusion, though it would be dismissed, adding that Palin would likely appeal his decision, adding that an appeals court “would greatly benefit from knowing how the jury would decide” the case.
The Wall Street Journal noted on Friday:
Palin lawyer Kenneth Turkel urged a federal jury in Manhattan to hold the Times accountable in a case that he said boiled down to a simple rule: “Don’t say false things.” Mr. Turkel argued the Times and its then-opinion editor had doggedly advanced a narrative that “demonized the right wing,” part of what he alleged was a pattern at the newspaper.
“All they had to do was dislike her a little less and we’re not sitting here today,” Palin’s attorney continued.
Representing the Times, David Axelrod said that the paper realized its mistake and quickly corrected it the following day.
But Turkel said the correction did not mention Palin personally or how the mistake happened, which he said was “indicative of an arrogance and a sense of power that is uncontrolled, for which Governor Palin’s only remedy is to use our system here, the judicial system,” The Washington Post noted.