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Judge dismisses Palin libel case

Sarah Palin leaves the federal courthouse in New York on Thursday. Associated Press/Photo by Seth Wenig

Judge dismisses Palin libel case

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff decided former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin did not present enough evidence that New York Times editors acted recklessly or with “actual malice” when they connected an ad from her political action committee to a fatal Arizona shooting in a 2017 editorial. The nine-member jury in Manhattan had already started deliberating on Friday. Rakoff said he would still allow the jury to reach a verdict, but then he will dismiss the case. He also said Palin is likely to appeal. 

What is the case about? Former opinion editor James Bennet added a line to an editorial saying that Palin’s PAC circulated an ad that incited a 2011 shooting in Arizona in which Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., was wounded and six people were killed. The Times ran a correction and said the editor made an honest mistake. Palin argued that the insertion stemmed from a deep-seated, organizational bias against political conservatives. Her lawyers said the editorial showed a “libelous display of arrogance and unchecked power.” Times lawyers asked the judge to preserve legal precedent that they said protects freedom of the press, even freedom to make mistakes.

Dig deeper: Read my report in The Stew about details of the case and the future of defamation standards.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Washington, D.C.



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