Sarah Palin’s defamation trial against the New York Times began yesterday after a short delay due to her bout with COVID. The case is important in that it threatens the long-established broad First Amendment protections for the media.
The media is accused of leftist bias. A number of recent lawsuits against other outlets as well as the Times address the media’s defamatory reporting (Nick Sandmann and Kyle Rittenhouse are two examples).
The case stems from a June 2017 editorial published hours after a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice outside Washington, D.C., wounding several people, including Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, a top House Republican.
The piece referenced the 2011 Arizona shooting in which former Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was wounded and six people were killed. It suggested that her political rhetoric caused the mass killings by a mentally deranged individual. The article referred to an ad from Ms. Palin’s political-action committee that had superimposed crosshairs over Democratic House districts, including Ms. Giffords’s.
It was used over and over by other outlets, especially blogs, and appeared to be the impetus harmful narratives denigrating Mrs. Palin’s image.
In his opening statement, Palin’s lawyer Shane Vogt told jurors that his client was fighting an uphill battle to show the editorial reflected the Times’ knowledge it was false and its history of bias toward her and other Republicans.
“The Times’ lawyer, David Axelrod, countered in his opening statement that the editorial sought to hold both Democrats and Republicans responsible for inflammatory rhetoric, and said the newspaper acted as quickly as possible to correct its mistake.”
The article was titled, America’s Lethal Politics. It centered on the Arlington shooting by a Bernie radical that left Rep. Steve Scalise seriously wounded, and the Gifford’s shooting.
From the article:
Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.
They called her a murderess based on a link that had nothing to do with the crime by the mentally ill Loughner who, incidentally, was without a set political ideology. They created a murder out of whole cloth and they knew it when they wrote it.
Jared Lee Loughner said The Communist Manifesto was his favorite book, yet for days the media said he was a Tea Party activist and even named an innocent man as the murderer.
Two days later, the Times issued a partial retraction to the Op-Ed attacking Mrs. Palin, after the link was well-established. Should it have ever been printed by the Times? One correction said the article “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting” of Ms. Giffords. The other correction noted that the crosshairs didn’t cover individual Democratic lawmakers, just the locations of their districts. The paper’s editorial board also tweeted an apology to its readers.
Sarah Palin said she just wants honesty in the media.