Just two weeks after The New York Times published an editorial falsely linking former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s PAC with the 2011 shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, Palin has gone “Mama Grizzly” on the paper — and she’s brought in some lawyers to help drop the legal hammer.
According to The Daily Caller, Palin filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday accusing The Times of defamation over an editorial published one day after the Steve Scalise shooting.
“Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for defaming her by publishing a statement about her that it knew to be false: that Mrs. Palin was responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011,” the lawsuit reads.
“Specifically, on June 14, 2017, The Times Editorial Board, which represents the ‘voice’ of The Times, falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Mrs. Palin incited Jared Loughner’s January 8, 2011, shooting rampage at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, during which he shot nineteen people, severely wounding United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and killing six, including Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl.”
The New York Times piece, titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” erroneously posited a definitive link between the Giffords shooting and an image posted on the website of Palin’s PAC.
“Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs,” the original text of the editorial read, according to the Daily Wire.
“Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.” (Emphasis ours.)
The shooting was carried out by a mentally ill man named Jared Loughner who had likely never seen the image. While the offending text was later edited out of the piece and the putative link to Palin was considerably softened in the edited version, the lawsuit claims that The Times “published and promoted its Editorial Board’s column despite knowing that the linchpin of its ‘sickening pattern’ of politically-incited shootings was the false assertion that Mrs. Palin incited Loughner to murder six people, among them a child and federal judge, and seriously wound numerous others.
“As the public backlash over The Times’ malicious column mounted, it responded by making edits and ‘corrections’ to its fabricated story, along with half-hearted Twitter apologies — none of which sufficiently corrected the falsehoods that the paper published,” the lawsuit continues. “In fact, none mentioned Mrs. Palin or acknowledged that Mrs. Palin did not incite a deranged man to commit murder.”
Even by the low standards of Gotham’s toney compendium of pseudointellectual demagogy, “America’s Lethal Politics” represented a new low for The Times’ longstanding policy of asserting conservatives are to blame for everything, including hate crimes committed by liberals against conservatives.
The Times plainly “exceeded the bounds of legality, decency and civility by publishing the false and defamatory column,” as Palin’s lawsuit states.
While she only seeks a minimum of $75,000 in damages, one surmises the actual aim of the litigation is to make The Times finally admit that the editorial, in its original form, was a grave affront to truth and to discourse in this country. The truly repugnant thing is that legal proceedings are necessary to force the paper to admit this self-evident proposition.
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