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Jury rejects Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against New York Times

Yoopya with Associated Press

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin lost her libel lawsuit against The New York Times on Tuesday when a jury rejected her claim that the newspaper maliciously damaged her reputation by erroneously linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin reacts as she leaves a courthouse in New York, Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. Palin lost her libel lawsuit against The New York Times on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, when a jury rejected her claim that the newspaper maliciously damaged her reputation by erroneously linking her campaign rhetoric to a mass shooting. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

A judge had already declared that if the jury sided with Palin, he would set aside its verdict on the grounds that she hadn’t proved the paper acted maliciously, something required in libel suits involving public figures.

Asked about the verdict as she left the Manhattan courthouse, Palin said, Of course we’re disappointed, adding she hoped there would be an appeal. 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 said. Doing all they can to make sure the little guy has a voice, the underdog can have their say.

In a statement, the Times called the verdict 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.

Palin, a onetime Republican vice presidential nominee, sued the newspaper in 2017, claiming it had damaged her career as a political commentator and consultant with an editorial about gun control published after a man opened fire on a congressional baseball team practice in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was wounded in the shooting, committed by a man with a history of anti-GOP activity.

In the editorial, the Times blamed overheated political rhetoric. It likened the shooting to a 2011 massacre in Arizona that left six dead and former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords severely wounded, and said Palin’s political action committee had contributed to an atmosphere of violence at the time by circulating a map of electoral districts that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs.

In a correction shortly after the editorial was published, The Times said that it had incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting and that it had incorrectly described the map; a tweet read, We got an important fact wrong.

At the trial, Palin cast herself as a victim of biased journalism by a left-leaning, elitist media institution eager to embarrass a pro-gun-rights politician.

It was devastating to read a false accusation that I had anything to do with murder, Palin said. I felt powerless — that I was up against Goliath. … I was David.

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Jury rejects Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against New York Times