Jury Reaches Verdict In Sarah Palin Libel Case Against NY Times
A United States federal jury ruled against Sarah Palin in her recent lawsuit against the New York Times, which accuses the publication of defaming her in an editorial published back in 2017.
The editorial incorrectly connected her to a mass shooting, after the judge presiding over the case stated that he would dismiss the case regardless of the verdict.
Palin, who once served as the former governor of Alaska and as the 2008 GOP U.S. vice presidential candidate, is fully expected to appeal the judge’s decision.
The case, which is in a Manhattan federal court, is now considered to be a major test of longstanding libel protections for the American media.
A landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court precedent, New York Times v Sullivan, established an “actual malice” standard for public figures like Palin to prove defamation, meaning that media knowingly published false information or had a reckless disregard for the truth.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said Palin had not met that “very high” standard, even as he faulted the Times for “very unfortunate editorializing” in the editorial.
He said letting the jurors reach a verdict could avoid complications should Palin appeal.
Palin viewed the case in biblical terms, testifying on Feb. 10 that she considered herself the underdog to the Times’ Goliath.
She sued the Times and its former editorial page editor James Bennet over a June 14, 2017, editorial that incorrectly linked her to a January 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that killed six people and wounded Democratic U.S. congresswoman Gabby Giffords.
The piece was penned after a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice in the state of Virginia, an incident that resulted in several people, including GOP Congressman Steve Scalise, being wounded.
“The editorial referred to a map circulated by Palin’s political action committee before the Arizona shooting that put the districts of Giffords and 19 other Democrats under cross hairs,” the report stated.
Bennet then stated in the piece that “the link to the politician was clear,” though there was no evidence the map was the motivation for the gunman.
The Times corrected the report the following morning after readers, and one of its own columnists complained. Bennet has testified that he didn’t intend to hurt Palin and that he felt horrible concerning the mistake.
“Two conservative Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, have called for the Sullivan decision to be reconsidered. There is no guarantee the court will eventually take Palin’s case,” the report continued.
Palin was the running mate for the late Sen. John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election, as well as Alaska’s governor from 2006 to 2009.