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Sarah Palin Calls New York Times ‘Goliath’ In Libel Suit

Sarah Palin Calls New York Times ‘Goliath’ In Libel Suit

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told a jury Thursday she felt like she was at the mercy of a “Goliath” when she first learned that a New York Times editorial suggested her campaign rhetoric helped incite a mass shooting.

Palin sued the Times for unspecified damages in 2017, alleging the newspaper had “damaged her career” as a “political commentator and consultant” with the editorial about gun control published after U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was wounded when a man with a history of anti-GOP activity opened fire on a Congressional baseball team practice in Washington. In the editorial, the Times wrote that before the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that severely wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed six others, Palin’s political action committee had “contributed to an atmosphere of violence” by circulating a map of electoral districts that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs.

DENVER, CO – JULY 01 Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks during the 2016 Western Conservative Summit the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, July 01, 2016. It is the 7th annual Western Conservative Summit. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

During her second day on the witness stand, Palin accused the Times of “deliberately fabricating lies” that hurt her reputation, which is the basis of her lawsuit accusing the newspaper of libel that has resulted in a trial in federal court in Manhattan. “It was devastating to read a false accusation that I had anything to do with murder,” Palin said. “I felt powerless – that I was up against Goliath. The people were David. I was David.”

Palin has often spread conspiracy theories and right-wing falsehoods on her social media accounts, including misinformation about the coronavirus. While in New York City for her trial, Palin has been excoriated by locals, including the Mayor, for continuing to dine out in public after being diagnosed with COVID19.

“When you know lies are told about you … that causes some stress. Hard to get a good night’s sleep,” Palin said on the stand.

In a correction two days after the editorial was published, The Times said the editorial had “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting” and that it had “incorrectly described” the map.

The jury will have to decide whether former editorial page editor James Bennet acted with “actual malice,” meaning he knew what he wrote was false, or with “reckless disregard” for the truth when he inserted the disputed wording into the piece.

Bennet testified Wednesday and said that he botched the edit but meant no harm. “I’ve regretted it pretty much every day since,” Bennet said.

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