Accuracy in Media

Attorneys for The New York Times asked that Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against it be dismissed because the paper made “an honest mistake” when it claimed she incited a shooting in 2011 that severely wounded then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and killed six other people.

“There was an honest mistake in posting the editorial,” lawyer David Schultz told Manhattan federal Judge Jed Rakoff according to The New York Post.

Palin sued the Times after it ran an editorial on June 14 that said “the link to political incitement was clear” between Palin’s PAC ad and the shooter Jared Lee Loughner.

The Times ran a correction on June 16 admitting there was no such link.

An editorial on Thursday about the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established. The editorial also incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting. It depicted electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath stylized cross hairs.

Palin’s attorney, Kenneth Turkel dismissed the Times’ defense, saying the paper “literally acknowledged” that there was no link in a different article that appeared on the same day. [emphasis plaintiff]

For example, on June 14, 2017, The Times published the article “Shooting Is Latest Eruption in a Grim Ritual of Rage and Blame” (attached as Exhibit 6), which recognized:

In 2011, the shooting of Mr. Giffords by a mentally ill assailant came during a convulsive political period, when a bitter debate over health care yielded a wave of threats against lawmakers. Sarah Palin, the former vice-presidential candidate, drew sharp criticism for having posted a graphic online that showed cross hairs over the districts of several members of Congress; including Ms. Giffords – though no connection to the crime was established.

Even if Palin does not win her lawsuit — she must prove the Times acted with actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth — she at least got the Times to correct and admit a mistake, which the liberal media is generally loathe to do.


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