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Can NY Times really win Sarah Palin case by proving Editorial Author didn’t read the NY Times?


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At August 16 hearing, ignorance of prior Times articles on Gabby Giffords shooting may not be bliss.

William A. Jacobson   

Monday, August 14, 2017


As detailed extensively in prior posts, Sarah Palin has sued the NY Times for defamation based on an Editorial regarding the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

I discussed the suit and the motion to dismiss filed by The Times in a prior post, NY Times defense: Palin Crosshairs Editorial Wasn’t Actually About Sarah Palin. Please read the prior post for background and links to pleadings and motion papers.

In an unexpected development, the Authors of NY Times Palin Editorial Ordered To Give Testimony In Court:




Ignorance, however, may not be bliss for the Times.

As the Palin attorneys pointed out in their opposition to the motion (pdf.), the Sullivan case involved review of an advertisement prepared by someone else, not an Editorial prepared in the name of the Board of Editors. Discussing the Sullivan case, Palin’s attorneys write:

With respect to the failure of those persons to make the check, the record shows that they relied upon their knowledge of the good reputation of many of those whose names were listed as sponsors of the advertisement, and upon a letter from A. Phillip Randolph, known to them as a responsible individual, certifying that the use of the names was authorized. There was testimony that the persons handling the advertisement saw nothing in it that would render it unacceptable under The Times‘ policy of rejecting advertisements containing ‘attacks of a personal character‘; their failure to reject on this ground was not unreasonable.

The Palin lawyers continued:

Mrs. Palin has alleged the opposite—that no sources were relied upon (let alone responsible ones), and that the Editorial Board (not the advertising department) failed to check articles (including those published by its own Editorial section) that were easily obtainable online (as opposed to a manual search necessary in 1964, when Sullivan was decided). Worse, The Times hyperlinked the ABC Article which, unlike Sullivan, gave The Times obvious reason to doubt the veracity of its charges against Mrs. Palin. Here, there is considerably more reason beyond the ―mere presence of the stories in the files‖ to establish that The Times knew that its statements about Mrs. Palin were false. Certainly, The Times failed to investigate in the face of known facts calling into doubt the truth of its charges against Mrs. Palin. [footnotes omitted]

I think this is right. Palin is a controversial figure, and Bennet must have known of the controversy surrounding her alleged role in instigating the Giffords shooting.



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