Sarah Palin says NY Times editor's animosity led to defamation

By Jonathan Stempel
FILE PHOTO: Former vice-presidential candidate Palin campaigns for U.S. Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore at the Historic Union Station Train Shed in Montgomery

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sarah Palin said in an amended defamation lawsuit against the New York Times on Monday that the deep-seated "animosity and ill-will" of the newspaper's editorial page editor toward her motivated him to falsely link her to a mass shooting.

Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, made her claim against the editor, James Bennet, nearly five months after the federal appeals court in Manhattan revived her lawsuit, saying it had been wrongly dismissed by the trial judge.

"Gov. Palin brings this action because Mr. Bennet and The Times did not live up to the primary responsibility attendant to the extraordinary power of the press: tell the truth," the complaint said.

A spokeswoman for the Times declined to comment.

Palin is seeking damages "far in excess" of $75,000. Her lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit arose from a June 14, 2017 editorial that Palin said wrongly linked her to the January 2011 mass shooting where six people died and Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded.

That editorial said Palin's political action committee had circulated a map that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats under "stylized crosshairs" before the congresswoman was shot.

The Times later corrected the editorial, saying there was no link between "political rhetoric" and the Giffords shooting.

Bennet has said he had not intended to blame Palin for the Giffords shooting, but was simply making a point about the political environment.

In reinstating the lawsuit, which also names Bennet as a defendant, the appeals court said on Aug. 6 that Palin had plausibly alleged that the Times defamed her, though she still bore the "high" burden of showing it acted with "actual malice."

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan oversees the case, and has scheduled a June 22, 2020 trial.

The case is Palin v New York Times Co et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-04853.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)