Sarah Palin and The New York Times will face off Monday in court over an editorial she says falsely tied her to the 2011 Arizona shooting that left six dead and a member of Congress seriously injured.
Mrs. Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, accused The Times and its former editorial page editor, James Bennet, of defamation for a June 14, 2017, editorial. The article linked her political action committee to the 2011 shooting that seriously wounded Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, among others.
The editorial stated that the 2011shooting happened after Mrs. Palin’s PAC had distributed a map putting 20 Democrats, including Ms. Giffords, under “stylized crosshairs,” adding that “the link to political incitement was clear.”
The paper corrected the editorial to renounce any link between the political rhetoric and the Arizona shooting. Mr. Bennet said he had no intention to place blame on Mrs. Palin.
The editorial was published after a 2017 shooting at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, that targeted House Republicans and seriously wounded Rep. Steve Scalise. Mrs. Palin took issue with the language Mr. Bennett added to a draft written by a colleague.
Mrs. Palin, 57, a former governor of Alaska, is seeking unspecified damages, but according to court documents has estimated $421,000 in damage to her reputation.
Fifty-eight years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the “actual malice” threshold in the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan decision, which made it difficult for public figures to win libel suits.
Mrs. Palin, through court papers, has indicated she would challenge the Sullivan case precedent on appeal should she lose at trial.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at email@example.com.
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