Judge greenlights Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times

The New York Times just got some bad news.

A judge has ruled that the defamation lawsuit brought by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) against the New York Times can proceed.

Some background

This court case dates back to a June 2017 New York Times editorial about the shooting of then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, which took place in Alexandria, Virginia, Fox News reports.

In that article, the New York Times’ James Bennet, who no longer is with the Times, compared this shooting with another one that took place in January of 2011 leaving six people dead and others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, seriously wounded. The Times article stated that, prior to the shooting, Palin’s political action committee had circulated a map that placed 20 Democrats, including Giffords, under “stylized crosshairs.” It further stated that the Scalise shooting had “no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack.”

In contrast to the suggestion made by the Times, it turns out that the crosshairs actually were in reference to ObamaCare. The Times corrected the editorial, saying that there was no link between Palin’s map and the shootings and that, in the first place, no link had been intended.

Palin, notwithstanding, has sued the Times for libel.

Judgment rendered

On Friday, Judge Jed S. Rakoff, of the Federal District Court located in the Manhattan borough of New York City, ruled that the lawsuit can proceed to trial.

“[There was] sufficient evidence to allow a rational finder of fact to find actual malice by clear and convincing evidence,” Rakoff concluded.

Reuters reports that “Rakoff said Bennet’s having substantially rewritten an earlier draft, and [his] admission he was aware [of] ‘incitement’ could mean a call to violence, could suggest actual malice. The judge also said evidence Bennet may have ignored materials inconsistent with his ‘angle’ for the editorial could suggest his reckless disregard for the truth.”

Reactions

Following the ruling, Palin posted a message on Twitter, which read, “Humbled and thankful.” Palin’s lawyers, Shane Vogt and Ken Turkey, also stated that Palin appreciated Rokoff’s “careful consideration of the merits.”

The New York Times, on the other hand, released a statement, saying, “We’re disappointed in the ruling but are confident we will prevail at trial when a jury hears the facts.”

The trial is set to begin on February 1st of 2021. We’ll have to see whether a jury finally decides to hold the New York Times accountable.

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