On February 1, Sarah Palin will face off with the New York Times in a defamation trial, set to take place in a Manhattan courtroom.
The defamation case pertains to a 2017 editorial wherein a writer linked a Palin PAC ad regarding the repeal of Obamacare, notably the ad that showed crosshairs on a map filled with Democrat-majority congressional districts, to the 2011 shooting of former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords.
However, the following day, the New York Times edited the piece and clarified that no known link or correlation existed between Palin’s ad and the tragic 2011 shooting.
In general, public figures must endure a higher burden of proof in cases regarding defamation. However, in 2020, Manhattan District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff remarked that there is “sufficient evidence to allow a rational find of fact to find actual malice by convincing and clear evidence.”
The judge also noted that the lawsuit could move forward to trial, though he had previously dismissed the claim prior to an appeal, per the Hollywood Reporter.
In the original editorial, the writer declared that the SarahPAC map allegedly placed specific Democrats, including then-Rep. Gifford, in the crosshairs. However, the crosshairs were placed over the Democrats’ districts, not their individual homes.
The editorial, “America’s Lethal Politics,” which was analyzing the 2017 shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise at a congressional baseball-practice shooting, noted that “there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, [however], liberals should … hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.”
After Rakoff ruled that Palin’s lawsuit could move forward in 2020, the New York Times remarked that it was “disappointed in the ruling,” though the newspaper is “confident [in prevailing] at trial when a jury hears the facts.”
On her part, Palin is “humbled and thankful” by the judge permitting her defamation case to move forward.
The jury selection for the case is set to commence on January 24.