Judge Dismisses Palin's Defamation Suit Against NYT For Political Violence Op-Ed

A judge says that mistakes will be made in the exercise of press freedoms but lawsuits from public figures must be limited

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, finding that Palin failed to show that the paper acted "maliciously" in publishing an editorial that included incorrect information about a pro-Palin political action committee.

"Nowhere is political journalism so free, so robust or perhaps so rowdy as in the United States", Rakoff said.

"Negligence this may be; but defamation of a public figure it plainly is not", the judge wrote in dismissing Palin's defamation case with prejudice, which bars her from refiling the case in his court. Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. He also noted the Times subsequently issued a correction.

This just wasn't the case in the case of the gun violence editorial, Judge Rakoff wrote.

Palin, the former Alaska governor who was Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate in an unsuccessful 2008 campaign, sued the Times in June, seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages.

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A cornerstone of US libel law since the 1960's, the "actual malice" standard requires public figures to show defendants knew what they published was false or showed a reckless disregard for the truth.

According to Politico, "lawyers for Palin asked Bennet, whose brother Michael is a Democratic senator in Colorado, whether he knew that Colorado Democratic Congress members who endorsed his brother in 2016 had been listed as targets on the 2011 map, or whether he remembered that a PAC associated with Giffords, advocating gun control, had endorsed his brother's re-election".

iMediaEthics has written to Palin's attorney for a response to the ruling.

James Bennet, the editor of the New York Times editorial board, testified at a hearing earlier this month he did not look at the map or extensively review the Times' coverage of the 2011 shooting while editing the article.

- Brad Heath (@bradheath) August 29, 2017Judge says Palin claim was "materially deficient" b/c it didn't name a specific person.

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