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Jury returns verdict after judge launches Sarah Palin libel lawsuit against The New York Times

Palin claimed that an erroneous editorial defamed her.

A federal jury in New York on Tuesday dismissed former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s libel suit against The New York Times a day after a judge said he would dismiss the case regardless of the verdict. rendered.

The jury told Judge Jed Rakoff that after just over two days of deliberation, they had concluded that The New York Times was not liable for the defamation of Palin.

The jury’s decision follows Rakoff’s announcement Tuesday to attorneys in the case that he will overturn the verdict and dismiss the trial because Palin failed to meet the high standard of showing the Times acted with a “genuine malice” when he published an erroneous editorial. linked Palin’s political action committee to a mass shooting.

Explaining his decision, Rakoff said he believed it was inevitable that the case would be appealed and that such action would benefit from knowing how the jury’s deliberations unfolded.

As she left the courthouse on Monday, Palin said she was intrigued by the judge’s decision.

“This is a jury trial and we still appreciate the system,” Palin told reporters. “So everything that happened in there is usurping the system.”

In a statement published in The Times, the newspaper’s spokeswoman, Danielle Rhoades Ha, called Rakoff’s decision “a reaffirmation of a fundamental principle of American law” protecting freedom of the press.

“Public figures should not be allowed to sue for defamation to punish or intimidate news outlets that make, acknowledge and promptly correct unintentional errors,” Ha said.

Palin, 58, sued The Times in 2017, about nine years after she was chosen to be Sen. John McCain’s GOP vice-presidential nominee, claiming the newspaper deliberately ruined her budding career as a political commentator and consultant by publishing an erroneous editorial which she called libelous. her.

The editorial that sparked the lawsuit was published the same day a gunman opened fire on GOP politicians practicing for a Congressional charity baseball game in a suburb of Washington, D.C., injuring six people, including Republican Representative Steve Scalise.

Under the headline “America’s Lethal Politics,” the editorial board of The Times wrote on June 14, 2017 that before the 2011 Arizona mass shooting that killed six people and left then-Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords with a traumatic brain injury, Palin’s political Action Committee had fueled a violent atmosphere by circulating a map that placed the electoral districts of Giffords and 19 other Democrats under a stylized crosshairs.

Two days later, The Times published a correction stating that the editorial had “incorrectly described” the map and “incorrectly stated that a connection existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting”.

During the trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Palin portrayed herself as the biblical David taking on the giant Philistine Goliath with just a slingshot. Palin, in her testimony, accused the Times of deliberately fabricating lies to smear her reputation.

Former Times editorial page editor James Bennet testified that if he was responsible for the misinformation in the editorial, it was an honest mistake and he meant no harm.

ABC’s Aaron Katersky reports:

ABC News

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