Former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin has filed a lawsuit against the New York Times over an editorial that sought to link her the nearly-fatal shooting of then-Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) in 2011. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She is seeking as yet undetermined damages.

Court documents allege "Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for defaming her by publishing a statement that it knew to be false." 

The original version of the NYT editorial focused on the June 15 assassination attempt on the life of House Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise at a baseball diamond in Virginia. It accused Palin of creating an environment that led to the shooting of Giffords. The paper declared that "the link to political incitement was clear" in the Giffords shooting. It also alleged that Palin's political action committee "circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords ... under stylized crosshairs."

Filed in Manhattan by Palin’s lawyers -- S. Preston Ricardo, Kenneth Turkel, and Shane Vogt -- the suit accuses the New York Times of having “violated the law and its own policies” when the paper accused her in a “fabricated story” of inciting the 2011 attack by Jared Lee Loughner on Giffords. The former Congresswoman suffered severe brain trauma as a result of the shooting.

The ad that was produced by Palin’s PAC never put Giffords or any other individual in the cross hairs, thus forcing the prestigious liberal newspaper to issue an embarrassing correction. Post on June 16, NYT admitted that it had “incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting.” The map, the correction read, “depicted electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath stylized cross hairs.”

The newspaper also admitted that the editorial “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords.” It conceded, “In fact, no such link was established.” As for the current lawsuit, NYT vows to defend itself vigorously in court. 

“Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for falsely stating to millions of people that she, a devoted wife, mother and grandmother, who committed a substantial portion of her adult life to public service, is part of a pattern of ’ lethal ’ politics and responsible for inciting an attack that seriously injured numerous people and killed six, including a nine-year-old girl who, at that time, was the same age as Mrs. Palin’s youngest daughter,” the lawsuit reads.

Palin’s lawsuit also slammed NYT for not acknowledging that “Palin did not incite a deranged man to commit murder.” The lawsuit added, “The Times should have apologized to Mrs. Palin.”



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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