August 30, 2020

"A federal judge said on Friday that there was enough evidence in Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times Company to send it to a jury trial..."

The NYT reports.
The suit, filed in June 2017, is centered on a Times editorial published that month under the headline "America’s Lethal Politics." In her complaint, Ms. Palin said the newspaper’s editorial board had wrongly and intentionally linked her to a 2011 mass shooting in which Gabrielle Giffords, a congresswoman from Arizona, was severely wounded and six people were killed...

The judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan, dismissed Ms. Palin’s suit two months after it was filed, saying of the mistaken editorial: "Negligence this may be; but defamation of a public figure it plainly is not." Last year, a three-judge panel overturned that decision and reinstated the case. On Friday, weeks after lawyers for Ms. Palin and The Times made arguments at a hearing, Judge Rakoff denied a Times motion for summary judgment. In ordering the case to proceed, he said there was "sufficient evidence to allow a rational finder of fact to find actual malice by clear and convincing evidence."...

The editorial, as it was first published, argued that 'the link to political incitement was clear' in the 2011 shooting. It also suggested a connection between a map circulated by Ms. Palin’s political action committee and the shooting. The map showed 20 targeted electoral districts held by Democrats, including Ms. Giffords’s seat, under stylized cross hairs...

The disputed material had been added to the editorial by James Bennet, the editorial page editor at the time. The outcome of the case rests on whether he behaved with "actual malice," meaning that he knew what he wrote was false, or acted out of "reckless disregard" for the truth. ...

Mr. Bennet resigned from The Times in June, after the publication of an Op-Ed by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, that called for a military response to civic unrest in American cities.
Palin needs to prove that it's clear that there was actual malice in saying that the connection between Palin and the shooting of Gifford was clear. It's clear that the connection was not clear, but for Palin to win, it needs to be clear that Bennet knew it was not clear or recklessly disregarded whether it was clear. What the trial judge said was that the question whether it was clear that Bennet knew or recklessly disregarded whether it was clear is unclear enough that a rational jury could find that it was clear.

Is that clear?!

Isn't it interesting to see Bennet in the center of things again? Here's what I wrote last June about the problem with what Cotton had written:
[Cotton wrote about] "left-wing radicals like antifa infiltrating protest marches to exploit Floyd’s death for their own anarchic purposes," but the NYT has not yet reported that the violent element was antifa. Its news story on June 1 had said "conservative commentators are asserting with little evidence that antifa, the far-left anti-fascism activist movement coordinates the riots and looting."
I was bothered at the time — and I'm still bothered today — that there isn't "more reporting in the NYT about who's responsible for the violence and disorder accompanying the protests." I continue to feel that the NYT is "not pursuing it or they are suppressing what they have because it impugns the left." By comparison, the Times was ridiculously eager to see a connection between a conservative — Sarah Palin — and one sudden act of violence.

Perhaps Bennet, in approving what Cotton had written, was thinking of balancing out the NYT tendency to blame conservatives for violence, which is what got the Times in trouble and made it vulnerable to Palin's lawsuit. But letting Cotton blame left-wingers for violence sparked internal dissension at the New York Times, and Bennet got booted out.

47 comments:

rehajm said...

Conclusion: NYT deserves to be Gawkered.

gilbar said...

didn't the New York Times used to be the paper of record?
didn't the New York Times used to be a paper of record?
didn't the New York Times used to be a newspaper?

since they've admitted (on the front page!) that the only things they print are opinion;
why do people expect anything else from them?

tim in vermont said...

Funny how the connection of Rachael Maddow to the shooting of Republicans including a US Senator at the softball park, when the shooter shouted slogans from her show and admitted on social media to be a fan of hers seems to have largely escaped the notice of the media. Amazing how that works. That’s why the New York Times is mind poison. Even if you disbelieve everything they say while reading it, they are still controlling what you think about.

That shooting was based on the fake dossier invented for Hillary and paid for by Hillary that Inga prattled on about for so many years.

tim in vermont said...

It’s funny how the New York Times main hope is that they be found to recklessly disregard the truth.

Big Mike said...

Two things were clear to me at the time. The first was that the shooter had enough mental issues that he should never have been allowed anywhere near a gun. The second was that his mother got a special dispensation from the local sheriff because she was a politically well-connected Democrat.

The Times apparently initially convinced Judge Rakoff that they weren’t malicious, merely stupid. The judges that heard the appeal told him not to let them get away with that. Now a newspaper that claims to be the “paper of record” for the entire country has to try the “we were just stupid” defense on a jury.

And my popcorn maker is broken.

Jeff Weimer said...

It's amazing what the NYT will find unworthy of investigating.

clint said...

The problem for the New York Times is going to be that the NYT itself reported that there was no connection.

They can probably still put on a defense, but it will be one in which they have to impugn the importance or accuracy or both of their own news pages.

Oso Negro said...

I continue to feel that the New York Times is the official mouthpiece of whomever is behind the violence.

BUMBLE BEE said...

New York Times... Crayons enclosed with each copy.

Amadeus 48 said...

One should never worry too much about factions inside liberation movements. Just ask the People’s Liberation Front of Judea about yhe Judean People’s Liberation Front (those wankers).

tim in vermont said...

"since they've admitted (on the front page!) that the only things they print are opinion;”

It’s always been “All the news we see fit to print."

boatbuilder said...

NYT v. Sullivan. The Costanza rule enshrined in law.

Jersey Fled said...

Not much chance that Palin will win, but the optics will be bad for the Times. And putting Times executives on the stand might be fun.

Jersey Fled said...

New York Times... Crayons enclosed with each copy.

The crayons would be the only thing of value. But they would all be yellow and red.

Jersey Fled said...

"It’s always been “All the fake news we see fit to print."

James K said...

I was bothered at the time — and I'm still bothered today — that there isn't "more reporting in the NYT about who's responsible for the violence and disorder accompanying the protests." I continue to feel that the NYT is "not pursuing it or they are suppressing what they have because it impugns the left."

Perhaps the answer is to stop taking the NYT seriously as a source of news. Just sayin'. There is real journalism going on today, just not at the NYT, WaPo, CBS, NBC, ABC, NPR, CNN, etc.

I agree it will be hard for Palin's team to prove that this was malice vs, say, confirmation bias. They'd need a smoking gun e-mail of someone telling the reporter, "You know, those aren't rifle sights, they're printer's markings," and the reporter saying, "Yeah, but the visual is great!"

Amadeus 48 said...

Jed Rakoff is famous for inventive judging. Maybe he wants to rewrite libel law now that he has an opening. He is notoriously anti corporation9. Look out New York Times Company!

Narayanan said...

The judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan, dismissed Ms. Palin’s suit two months after it was filed, saying of the mistaken editorial: "Negligence this may be; but defamation of a public figure it plainly is not." Last year, a three-judge panel overturned that decision and reinstated the case. On Friday, weeks after lawyers for Ms. Palin and The Times made arguments at a hearing, Judge Rakoff denied a Times motion for summary judgment. In ordering the case to proceed, he said there was "sufficient evidence to allow a rational finder of fact to find actual malice by clear and convincing evidence."...
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what is not clear to me is did Judge Rakoff hear any new words the second time around?
is it a case of right ear not hearing what the left ear? or what went through the left ear somehow got stopped in the right ear and sent to the amydgla this time around?

GingerBeer said...

Our "firefighter" press can be exceptionally incurious and credulous when the narrative demands. Should Biden win they will return to a well-earned nap.

Bruce Hayden said...

“I agree it will be hard for Palin's team to prove that this was malice vs, say, confirmation bias.”

I think that may be a fine line. Actual (legal) malice includes a reckless disregard for the truth. Why couldn’t confirmation bias be such? Indeed, with the Dems (IMHO), the two often seem to go together.

Gahrie said...

I was bothered at the time — and I'm still bothered today — that there isn't "more reporting in the NYT about who's responsible for the violence and disorder accompanying the protests." I continue to feel that the NYT is "not pursuing it or they are suppressing what they have because it impugns the left." By comparison, the Times was ridiculously eager to see a connection between a conservative — Sarah Palin — and one sudden act of violence.

Great! Apparently the operation on your eyes removed the rose colored glasses. But what are you going to do about it?

JAORE said...

There can be no counter narrative.

Consequences will be severe.

Democracy dies in darkness.

Counter narratives die in a back alley.

chickelit said...

I know it has been many years now but isn't the NYT on record for downplaying mass murder committed by the left? It seems like a long and one sided tradition in both their newsroom and editorial office. They've never addressed that imbalance.

Temujin said...

""conservative commentators are asserting with little evidence that antifa, the far-left anti-fascism activist movement coordinates the riots and looting."

Last night a man was shot and killed in Portland by an antifa pos. NY Times is probably not writing about that today.

tim in vermont said...

"Not much chance that Palin will win, but the optics will be bad for the Times.”

Since their defense will be "reckless disregard for the truth," I would say that Palin has them forked, as they say in chess.

Temujin said...

Duranty. Stalin. Ukrainian genocide by starvation.

The NY Times has been skilled in suppressing news that reflects badly on the Left for about 100 years.

gspencer said...

"But letting Cotton blame left-wingers for violence sparked internal dissension at the New York Times"

Yeah, don't want the truth as to who is instigating the violence to get out.

Bruce Hayden said...

""conservative commentators are asserting with little evidence that antifa, the far-left anti-fascism activist movement coordinates the riots and looting."

Better to call AntiFA the Marxist riot organization descended from one of the same name created by Stalin. Or, to be briefer: “commie scum”. Or to differentiate them from BLM: “AntiFA Commie Scum”.

Federal and state authorities busted three black vans by Kenosha a couple days ago filled with body armor, helmets, and other riot equipment. They had blacked out plates, and had BLM on painted on them. When the rioters were asked where they were from, they wouldn’t say, but claimed that they had a legal right to be there. Someone is supplying the buses, vans, body armor, gas masks, industrial grade lasers and fireworks, food, water, bricks, etc.


Unknown said...

Well I for one know which way I would vote if sitting on this jury. And the NYTimes would not like it. And I wouldn’t care much for the legal arguments either.

Bilwick said...

"Someone is supplying the buses, vans, body armor, gas masks, industrial grade lasers and fireworks, food, water, bricks, etc."

Darth Soros?

Jersey Fled said...

Federal and state authorities busted three black vans by Kenosha a couple days ago filled with body armor, helmets, and other riot equipment.

If you want a good laugh, you should read the story in the Seatle Times.

Seems like they were simple humanitarians heading to Kenosha to feed starving demonstrators.

HAHAHAHAHA...

Stop it, you're killing me!

There is no hope for Seatle.

Jupiter said...

'I was bothered at the time — and I'm still bothered today — that there isn't "more reporting in the NYT about who's responsible for the violence and disorder accompanying the protests."'

You get what you pay for.

rcocean said...

Is there any way Congress can rewrite the libel laws to make it more clear who and when people can be sued for slander? Or is this another of the numerous areas where the Judges have decided they and they alone can decide what is slander and isn't through their random opinions?

rcocean said...

I'm confused. So, the NYT wasn't supposed to publish Cotton editorial because it didn't meet their standards of "Truth and accuracy", but claiming Palin's map was connected to the Congresswoman's shooting DID meet their standards. Even though it was known to be false.

Interesting. But not surprising.

Yancey Ward said...

I don't think Palin can win this case at trial, and I don't think she should win.

Krumhorn said...

I’ve never liked Sullivan. The standard is too severe and far too difficult to prove. Journalist assclowns know this and are completely unconcerned about what they write and publish. It’s time for a new public figure defamation standard that holds the publisher’s feet closer to the fire.

- Krumhorn

Not Sure said...

Palin needs to prove that it's clear that there was actual malice

Few things are as clear as the actual malice felt by the NYT (et al., ad infinitum) toward Sarah Palin.

Linda Seebach said...

I think Bennet has said that he did not see the Cotton op-ed before it ran.

Hard to believe, but damning if true.

Sam L. said...

I despise, detest, and distrust the NYT (and its little dog WaPoo, too!)

Clues? said...

Federal District Court in Manhattan, dismissed Ms. Palin’s suit

Doesn’t the NYT do business in Alaska where also the plaintiff lives and where the reputational damage occurred? Why couldn’t this suit have been brought in a court in Alaska? I assume there’s a good reason; curious if anyone here can enlighten me

Jim at said...

The bodies weren't even cold before that piece of shit, Paul Krugman, was blaming the TEA Party.

MadTownGuy said...

rcocean said...
"Is there any way Congress can rewrite the libel laws to make it more clear who and when people can be sued for slander? Or is this another of the numerous areas where the Judges have decided they and they alone can decide what is slander and isn't through their random opinions?"

It's called jurisimprudence.

Rabel said...

Judge Rakoff is getting a lot of credit for doing what the Appeals Court ordered him to do after they gave him a hard slapdown for his prior decision.

He's clearly hostile to Palin, but at least he didn't go rogue like Judge Emmet Sullivan.

Narayanan said...

Gahrie said...
I was bothered at the time — and I'm still bothered today — that there isn't "more reporting in the NYT about who's responsible for the violence and disorder accompanying the protests." I continue to feel that the NYT is "not pursuing it or they are suppressing what they have because it impugns the left." By comparison, the Times was ridiculously eager to see a connection between a conservative — Sarah Palin — and one sudden act of violence.

Great! Apparently the operation on your eyes removed the rose colored glasses. But what are you going to do about it?
-----------============
Could be Professora is looking for the most pleasing hue on the rose palette? (since hue is discernible post surgery)

Narayanan said...

Krumhorn said...
I’ve never liked Sullivan. The standard is too severe and far too difficult to prove.
-----------===============
this has bothered me since I learned about US law >>> was even the original suit for redress of injury brought against the correct parties?

from https://www.britannica.com/event/New-York-Times-Co-v-Sullivan#ref313382

A group including veteran civil rights activists Bayard Rustin, A. Phillip Randolph, and Harry Emerson Fosdick determined to take out a full-page ad in the Times that would not only condemn the violence in Montgomery but also raise funds for the larger cause of civil rights. Rustin wanted the ad to be hard-hitting, and he told the author, John Murray, to add the names of prominent people as endorsers to make it more appealing. When Murray protested that those people had not been contacted for permission to use their names, Rustin assured him that there would be no problem, since they had all been involved in the movement and had lent their names previously.

Although the Times had a department to check on the accuracy of ads submitted to it, the person staffing that office when the copy came in signed off without questioning the material, because it “was endorsed by a number of people who are well known and whose reputation I had no reason to question.” The exact wording of the ad and accusations therein would prove critical

Marc said...

This is perhaps the reason they chose the letters for Spelling Bee today: 'libel' and 'bent' are both present, although not 'defamation'.

n.n said...

Few things are as clear as the actual malice felt by the NYT (et al., ad infinitum) toward Sarah Palin.

They were acutely phobic of her, and, in a perverse way, -philic, too. Palin embraced her feminine virtue, and broke the metaphorical "glass ceiling"... over their heads.