Jury rejects Sarah Palin’s libel claim against The New York Times

On Tuesday, the jury in the case of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin against The New York Times rejected the claim that the newspaper had damaged her reputation maliciously by linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting.

The judge in the case had decided that if the jury took Palin’s side, he would set apart the verdict, saying she had not proven the paper acted maliciously.

Proving the NYT had acted maliciously would be a requirement in libel suits involving public figures. When asked about the verdict as she exited the Manhattan courthouse, Palin commented, “Of course we’re disappointed,” adding that she hoped there would be an appeal, and she also praised her two lawyers.

“There were three of us versus the monstrous team of The New York Times, and we did well,” she continued. “Doing all they can to make sure the little guy has a voice, the underdog can have their say.”

Palin, who formerly was a Republican vice presidential nominee, had sued the paper in 2017 when she claimed it damaged her career as a political commentator and consultant with an editorial the paper published about gun control after a man opened fire on a Congressional baseball team practice in Washington, D.C.

The Times in a statement said the verdict was a “reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors.” 

In the original editorial, the Times attributed the shooting, which it likened to a 2011 massacre in Arizona that left six dead as well as former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords with a severe wound, to overheated political rhetoric.

It also alleged that Palin’s political action committee had played into an atmosphere of violence. The Times made a correction not long after the editorial was published, saying it had “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting.”  




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