Sarah Palin’s Defamation Suit Against The New York Times Will Head to Trial, Judge Rules

Sarah Palin’s Defamation Suit Against The New York Times Will Head to Trial, Judge Rules

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times can head to trial, a judge ruled Friday, Law and Crime reported.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote that there is “sufficient evidence to allow a rational finder of fact to find actual malice by clear and convincing evidence.”

Palin’s lawsuit seeks to “hold James Bennet and The Times accountable for defaming her by falsely asserting what they knew to be false: that Gov. Palin was clearly and directly responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011,” according to the filing.

“Specifically, on June 14, 2017, The Times published an editorial authored in the name of its Editorial Board (which represents the “voice” of The Times) that falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Gov. Palin incited Jared Loughner’s January 8, 2011, mass shooting at a political event in Tucson, Arizona.”

Law and Crime notes the circumstances surrounding the shooting:

…several online commentators noted that Palin’s political action committee SarahPAC had recently released an advertisement that superimposed artificial crosshairs on congressional districts held by Democrats. One such district was Arizona’s 8th–at the time held by then-representative Gabby Giffords, who would suffer extreme and life-altering injuries due to the shooting.

But according to Rakoff, the evidence, when “taken in the light most favorable to plaintiff,” shows Bennet “ultimately made the point he set out to make in reckless disregard of the truth.”

Bennet, the former editorial page editor for the Times, resigned after the paper ran an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-NE) titled, “Send in the Troops,” following the nationwide protests and violence due to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

A trial date is set for Feb. 1.

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt is a writer and editor from New Hampshire whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, Slate and Areo Magazine, among other places. He holds a BA in Political Science and History from Boston University.