Sarah Palin seeks US$75000 damages from New York Times

Posted June 29, 2017

The former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate and Governor of Alaska is suing the New York Times (NYT) for libel over an editorial piece that suggested she was responsible for inciting a gunman to attack Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, in 2011.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY on Tuesday said the Times deliberately "acted with actual malice" toward Palin and that the editorial was "false and defamatory".

The editorial in question, entitled "America's Lethal Politics", came in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.) and others at a GOP baseball practice by a left-wing supporter of Sen. Following a wave of backlash on social media, the Times issued an apology and corrected the editorial, saying no connection between political incitement and the Arizona shooting was ever established.

CNN's Dylan Byers got from The Times on Tuesday that they'd defend any claim, but is yet to review the suit. The editorial also incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting. Regardless, Palin is taking The Times to court.

But while many on social media are accusing Palin of using the NYT's lack of popularity among conservatives to inject herself into the limelight, the suit appears to be no laughing matter. Specifically, editorialists claimed Palin's political action committee incited the violence.

The Times' only possible defense would be that the editorial page is devoted to opinion, not factual reporting.

The fact that the Times issued corrections - half-heartedly - would not affect its liability for defamation, but might affect the damages it would face as a result.

The lawsuit was filed today in Manhattan federal court, according to the New York Post. That requires a publisher or speaker to know the statements are false and publish them anyway - or to act with a reckless disregard for their veracity.

Actual malice is hard to prove, but the fact that the Times itself has carried columns and news stories debunking the false claims about Palin's responsibility for murders committed by a nut who may never have heard of her is powerful.

"Yes, Republican personalities and officials in the wake of Barack Obama's election had spoken openly about "Second Amendment remedies" and being "armed and dangerous" and 'revolution, ' but it was not possible to connect the dots between that irresponsible talk and the Tucson shooter", he continued.

Palin charges in the lawsuit that the correction was not enough.

Palin's lawsuit also blasted The Times for not having "acknowledged that Mrs. Palin did not incite a deranged man to commit murder".