Sarah Palin–NYT Libel Trial Goes to Jury

Policy

Sarah Palin leaves during her lawsuit against the New York Times at the United States Courthouse in New York City, February 10, 2022.
(Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Jury deliberations began on Friday for former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s libel suit against the New York Times.

The jury discussed the case for two hours before taking a break for the weekend and will return on Monday for further deliberations. Jurors heard testimony for six days in the case, and it is unclear how long deliberations will last.

Palin first filed suit in 2017 after the Times published an editorial linking her PAC to the 2011 shooting of former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The editorial initially stated “the link to political incitement was clear” from a graphic circulated by the PAC showing 20 Democratic congressional districts, including Giffords’s, under “stylized crosshairs.”

That language was added to the draft editorial by former editorial-page editor James Bennett. The Times corrected the editorial shortly after publication, and Bennett has said he made an error in adding language linking Palin to the Giffords shooting.

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The 2017 editorial itself was published after a leftist extremist shot Representative Steve Scalise (R., La.). Noting that the shooter was an avowed supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), the editorial lamented “how vicious American politics has become.”

Palin’s attorney Ken Turkel said in closing arguments on Friday that the Times editorial was typical of the paper’s disdain for conservatives.

“There’s common thread through all the pieces as to how they treat people on the right they don’t agree with,” Turkel said, in remarks reported by Politico. “Look at the common thread: how in every single one of them they demonize the right wing or just treated them differently.”

Times attorney David Axelrod claimed that the 2017 editorial was not written with any political animus.

“The First Amendment provides legal protection to journalists and newspapers, like Mr. Bennett, like the New York Times, who make an honest mistake when they write about a person like Sarah Palin,” Axelrod told the court. “That’s all this was, is an honest mistake.”

Palin must show that the Times or Bennett knowingly published false information or acted with reckless disregard for the truth in order to win the libel suit.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

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