Judge dismisses Palin defamation case against New York Times


A federal judge dismissed Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times on Tuesday.

Palin sued the Times for defamation after an editorial in the newspaper on mass shootings tied an ad run by the former vice presidential nominee to the 2011 shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (R-Ariz.).

“Nowhere is political journalism so free, so robust, or perhaps so rowdy as in the United States,” Judge Jed Rakoff wrote in an opinion dismissing the case

“In the exercise of that freedom, mistakes will be made, some of which will be hurtful to others.”

Rakoff found that Palin did not meet the legal standard of proving malice toward a public figure, noting that the paper issued two corrections to the editorial in the hours after it was published.

“Such behavior is much more plausibly consistent with making an unintended mistake and then correcting it than with acting with actual malice,” he wrote.{mosads}

He also noted that Palin would have to sue the individual responsible for the alleged defamation and not the entire publication, but that her case would still fall short if she had done so.

“Here, plaintiff’s complaint, even when supplemented by facts developed at an evidentiary hearing convened by the Court, fails to make that showing. Accordingly, the complaint must be dismissed,” the decision reads. 

“Negligence this may be; but defamation of a public figure it plainly is not.”

Rakoff, who was appointed by former President Clinton in 1996, is a senior United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

Palin alleged in the lawsuit that the Times falsely accused her of “inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011” and of running a claim it “knew to be false.” 

The June 14 editorial had initially stated that Palin’s political action committee had run an ad showing Democratic lawmakers faces under crosshairs, when, in reality, the clip depicted their districts, not their faces.

The editorial was in response to the shooting at a GOP congressional baseball practice in June that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) severely wounded.

The newspaper issued a correction on the editorial saying the piece “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords.”

“In fact, no such link was established,” the correction read.

Updated 4:05 p.m.
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