Sarah Palin Loses New York Times Libel Lawsuit
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin answers questions from the media as she arrives in federal court in Manhattan on February 15, 2022 in New York City.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images
The judge’s dismissal was due to his conclusion that Palin had failed to provide sufficient evidence that her reputation had been tarnished by the June 2017 op-ed.
Tuesday’s verdict came three weeks after the start of the trial was postponed by Palin testing positive for Covid-19, the second time she had contracted the coronavirus.
The Times op-ed that sparked his lawsuit was written in response to the June 2017 shooting of then-House Majority Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, two Capitol Police special constables, and two other people at a baseball field in Virginia where GOP lawmakers were training. .
The editorial, titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” said there was a connection between a 2010 ad by Palin’s PAC and the mass shooting of Giffords and others a year later in Arizona.
The ad showed stylized crosshairs over 20 Democratic-held congressional districts, including Giffords, whom the PAC was aiming to win in the election that year.
But there was no evidence that the man who shot Giffords was motivated by the card or any other rhetoric from Palin.
The Times in Less Than a Day changed the language of the editorial and issued a correction after readers noted there was no connection to the Giffords shooting. But the newspaper did not apologize to Palin, who a little after filed his complaint.
Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and former governor of Alaska, turns as the verdict is read during her libel trial against The New York Times, at the United States Courthouse in the borough of Manhattan in New York, United States, on February 15, 2022 in this sketch of the courtroom.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
Palin faced a high bar to prove her case due to a 1964 Supreme Court decision, involving another lawsuit against The Times, which requires public figures to show that there was “actual malice” on the part of media companies to support defamation suits.
Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha, in an emailed statement Tuesday, said, “The New York Times welcomes today’s verdict.”
“It is a reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be allowed to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that promptly commit, acknowledge and correct unintentional errors,” said the spokesperson.
“It is gratifying that the jury and the judge understood the legal protections of the media and our vital role in American society. We would also like to thank the jurors for their careful deliberations in a difficult area of the law.”