(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday rejected the New York Times' bid to dismiss Sarah Palin's libel complaint over a 2017 editorial that she said incorrectly linked her to a mass shooting.
USA. Manhattan District Judge Jed Rakoff said that although much of Palin's case was cumbersome, it was strong enough for a jury to find Times and former editor-in-chief James Bennet acting with "real evil through clear and convincing evidence" in the publication of
Judge Rakoff scheduled a trial on February 1, 2021.
"We are disappointed with the decision but are convinced that we will win the trial when a jury hears the facts," Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades-Ha said in an email.
Ms. Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, sued on June 1
The management referred to a shooting in January 2011 in which six people died and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously injured, saying that the Palin Political Trade Committee had circulated a map before that shooting that put 20 Democrats including Giffords under "stylized crosshairs."
It also opposed the shootings, saying that the Scalise attack had "no signs of encouragement as directly as in the Giffords attack."
The Times later corrected the leadership, saying that there was no connection between "political rhetoric" and Ms. Giffords shoots, and Mr. Bennet has said he did not intend to blame Palin.
But Judge Rakoff said that Bennet had written about an earlier draft essentially and acknowledged that as a conscious "encouragement" he could mean a call to violence, he could suggest real evil.
The judge also said that evidence Bennet may have ignored material that did not agree with his "angle" for the management may suggest his ruthless disregard for the truth.
Ms. Palin's lawyers, Shane Vogt and Ken Turkel, said in an email that she appreciated Judge Rakoff's "careful consideration of the merits."
The case is Palin v. New York Times Co et al. U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Catalog