Sarah Palin testifies that she felt “powerless” in front of the New York Times


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NEW YORK – Sarah Palin said in her libel lawsuit against The New York Times on Thursday that she felt “powerless” after a 2017 op-ed wrongly linked the prominent Republican to a mass shooting six years later. early, accusing the newspaper of trying to “score political points”. .”


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Before the two sides ended their arguments, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican candidate for U.S. vice president in 2008 told jurors in Manhattan federal court that she was “mortified” after the editorial appeared to link it to incitement to murder.

“It’s hard to lay your head on a pillow and get a restful night when you know lies are being told about you, a specific lie that wasn’t going to be corrected,” Palin testified during interrogation. of his lawyer. “It causes a certain amount of stress that anyone would feel.”

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Palin, 57, said the Times was “trying to score political points”, calling the paper “the be-all and end-all, the strong voice of American media”. Palin compared the diary to the biblical giant Goliath, and herself to the underdog David.

“It was devastating to read, yet again, an accusation, a false accusation that I had anything to do with the murder, the murder of innocent people,” Palin said. “And I felt helpless.”

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Cross-examined by Times attorney David Axelrod, however, Palin struggled to provide specific examples of how the op-ed had damaged her reputation, while claiming that “things have changed” and that many people thought less of her.

Palin testified for about 3.5 hours over two days, following testimony from James Bennet, a former Times editorial page editor and also a defendant in her trial.

Bennet said he never intended to blame Palin or his political action committee in the disputed op-ed titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” which discussed gun control and the growth of crime. incendiary political rhetoric.


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After six days of testimony, closing arguments are scheduled for Friday. The jurors can start deliberating on Friday afternoon or on Monday.

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The June 14, 2017 op-ed was written after a shooting that day at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia where Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise was injured.

He was referring to the January 2011 shooting in an Arizona parking lot by gunman Jared Lee Loughner in which six people were killed and Democratic US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously injured.

Bennet added language linking the Giffords shooting to a map released by Palin’s political action committee that the editorial said put 20 Democrats, including Giffords, in the crosshairs.

He told jurors he was under pressure when he added the phrase “the link to political incitement was clear” to the op-ed.

  1. Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and former governor of Alaska, walks with former NHL player Ron Duguay during his libel trial against The New York Times at the United States Courthouse. United in the Manhattan borough of New York on Wednesday, February 9.  2022.

    Sarah Palin testifies against The New York Times in libel lawsuit

  2. Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and former governor of Alaska, watches Linda Cohn being questioned by defense attorney Ken Turkel during Palin's libel trial against The New York Times, at the courthouse of the United States in the Manhattan borough of New York, United States.  , February 8, 2022 in this courtroom sketch.

    Former NY Times editor put on the defensive in Sarah Palin libel trial

There is no evidence that Loughner had a political motive, and The Times corrected the editorial the next day.

Palin said she believed the correction was accurate but did not “completely correct” the record, noting that he did not name it.

She faces a high legal bar to win in a lawsuit that tests the longstanding legal protections of the American media against allegations of defamation by public figures.

Palin must convince jurors there was clear and convincing evidence that the Times and Bennet acted with “actual malice”, meaning they either knew the editorial was false or had reckless disregard for the truth. She is claiming unspecified damages.


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During cross-examination, Palin agreed that the symbols on the map looked like crosshairs, but also looked like surveyor’s marks.

When asked if she approved of the card, she replied, “It has my name on it, so yes.”

While accusing the media of abusing the “power of the pen”, she did not identify anyone who, in Axelrod’s words, wanted to “go out and chase her” because of the card.

She also did not identify any specific family members or close friends who pointed out the editorial’s alleged injustice.

“After the op-ed, things changed in terms of being called upon to advise and assist, and being seen publicly on a high-level political stage,” Palin said.

Palin said she and her family received death threats in 2011 after they were wrongly linked to the Arizona attack, but did not pursue it because she wanted to focus on the victims and not politicize the tragedy.

The Times editorial was different, she said. “I knew something had to be done.”

Palin signaled that if she lost at trial, she would appeal The New York Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the standard for actual malice.

She was John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election and governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009.



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