Sarah Palin is seeking over $75,000 in damages in defamation lawsuit against NY Times

Sarah Palin is seeking over $75,000 in damages in defamation lawsuit against NY Times
Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican politician who has been highly critical of the New York Times: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is another long-time critic —and on Monday, the 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee filed a 52-page amended complaint as part of her defamation lawsuit against the publication. Palin, according to Law & Crime, is seeking more than $75,000 in damages as well as “restitution in the form of the Times’ advertising revenues attributable to the” June 14, 2017 article that inspired the lawsuit.


On June 14, 2017, the Times published an opinion piece by its editorial board and discussed, among other things, Palin’s political activities in the early 2010s — when her political action committee, SarahPAC, released an ad that depicted crosshairs imposed over various Democratic politicians. One of them was Arizona’s Gabby Giffords, who was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives at the time. After the ad aired, Giffords was seriously injured in a January 8, 2011 attack in Tucson by gunman Jared Loughner.

In her lawsuit, Palin asserts that it was unfair for the Times to publish an editorial linking her to Loughner’s attack. The Times’ James Bennet is specifically mentioned in the lawsuit.

The filing on Monday states, “Gov. Palin brings this action to hold James Bennet and the Times accountable for defaming her by falsely asserting what they knew to be false: that Gov. Palin was clearly and directly responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011. Specifically, on June 14, 2017, the Times published an editorial authored in the name of its editorial board, which represents the “voice” of the Times, that falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Gov. Palin incited Jared Loughner’s January 8, 2011 mass shooting at a political event in Tucson, Arizona.”

Palin, Colin Kalmbacher explains in Law & Crime, first filed her lawsuit against the Times only two weeks after the June 14, 2017 editorial was published.

The filing on Monday also states, “Gov. Palin brings this action to hold James Bennet and the Times accountable for defaming her by falsely asserting what they knew to be false: that Gov. Palin was clearly and directly responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011. Specifically, on June 14, 2017, the Times published an editorial authored in the name of its editorial board (which represents the ‘voice’ of the Times) that falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Gov. Palin incited Jared Loughner’s January 8, 2011, mass shooting at a political event in Tucson, Arizona.”

Palin’s lawsuit also claims that the Times mentioned Loughner’s attack in order to divert attention from violence against Republicans — specifically, the June 14, 2017 attack in which sniper James Hodgkinson in Washington, D.C. seriously injured Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Palin’s lawsuit mentions that the Times, in 2017, identified Hodgkinson was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders — who, it should be noted, wholeheartedly condemned the attack and wished Scalise a speedy recovery.

The Palin filing states, “As early reports about the Hodgkinson shooting sparked speculation about whether his actions were motivated by liberal, anti-Republican political rhetoric, Mr. Bennet was outraged and decided to respond by reviving what he knew to be debunked speculation that Gov. Palin incited Loughner’s shooting. To do so, Mr. Bennet ignored his own knowledge of the facts surrounding the Loughner shooting, the well-known consensus, including within The Atlantic and the Times, that Gov. Palin’s political activities played no role in Loughner’s shooting, readily available information and articles about the Loughner shooting, and the most basic and fundamental tenants of ethical journalism.”

Bennet has stressed that he never said that Palin was directly responsible for Giffords’ shooting but rather, that he was making a point about the political environment in 2011.

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