Jury Hears Closing Arguments In Palin Vs. New York Time Trial | New York News


By TOM HAYS, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A widely circulated New York Times op-ed wrongly linking former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to a mass shooting was a libelous display of arrogance and unchecked power, the attorney for Palin in her closing arguments Friday in a defamation trial.

A lawyer for the Times admitted the newspaper erred, but argued there was no evidence it tried to damage Palin’s reputation.

At the time of the 2017 op-ed, Palin was far from her fleeting fame as a Republican vice-presidential candidate, trying to live a quiet life in her home state, attorney Kenneth Turkel told a jury. in federal court in Manhattan. The play dragged her into an unfair fight, Turkel said.

“What this dispute is about in its simplest form is power and lack of power,” he said. He also called her an example of how the Times “treats people on the right that they don’t agree with. … They don’t care. She’s just one of they.

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The Times published a correction but never apologized to Palin, which was “indicative of an unchecked arrogance and sense of power”, he added.

He added: “Sarah Palin didn’t do anything to deserve this. … All they had to do was hate her a little less and we’re not sitting here today.”

In closing argument, Times attorney David Axelrod called the case “incredibly important because it’s about freedom of the press.”

The First Amendment protects journalists “who make an honest mistake when writing about someone like Sarah Palin… That’s all it was about – an honest mistake,” Axelrod said.

To prevail in the lawsuit, the plaintiff “must show that it was not just an honest mistake” but “that they printed something they knew was wrong,” he said. The evidence showed that “Gov. Palin is nowhere near shouldering that burden,” he added.

He also pointed out that the Palin lawsuit does not claim that she lost income because of the editorial. “She’s not doing this because it didn’t happen.”

The jurors deliberated for about two hours at the end of the day without reaching a verdict. They are due to resume Monday morning.

The jury must decide whether the Times acted with “actual malice” against a public figure, meaning a Times editorial page editor knew what he was writing was untrue, or with “contempt reckless” for the truth when he inserted the disputed wording into the article. If the nine jurors discover that there has been defamation, they can fix damages.

Palin sued The Times for unspecified damages in 2017, about a decade after bursting onto the national scene as a Republican vice-presidential candidate. She alleged that the newspaper had harmed her career as a political commentator and consultant with the gun control editorial published after US Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, was injured when a man with history of anti-GOP activity opened fire on a congressman. baseball team practice in Washington.

In the editorial, the Times wrote that prior to the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that critically injured former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords and killed six others, Palin’s political action committee had contributed to a atmosphere of violence by circulating a map of electoral districts that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats under a stylized crosshair.

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

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