Column: Palin Shames The New York Times In Court

In 1964, the Supreme Court issued a “landmark” decision in New York Times vs. Sullivan which established the very high bar of requiring the smeared plaintiff to prove there was “actual malice” on the part of the media outlet.

Get Them Now TimesSarah Palin’s feisty First Amendment testing is another example of Palin exploiting this standard. There is no doubt that the liberal media are nervous about this “prestigious” newspaper being forced into court to defend their reckless character assassinations of conservatives.

Palin sued first The Times An editorial published in 2017, following the attack on Virginia’s softball fields by congressional Republicans. This was the result. Times claimed that when Jared Loughner shot and killed six people in 2011 – and wounded, among others, Rep. Gabby Giffords – “the link to political incitement was clear…Sarah Palin’s [PAC] circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

This was deeply wrong, and it wasn’t an innocent mistake. The TimesThe company itself reported that this wasn’t true! Loughner wasn’t motivated in any way by Sarah Palin or her map. It was merely a suggestion that twenty Democrats who voted to repeal Obamacare ought not to be in the next election.

In the “Reliable Sources” newsletter, CNN’s Oliver Darcy rolled out legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin to proclaim “Palin is the perfect plaintiff and The New York Times is the perfect defendant for the right to mobilize against First Amendment protections for the press.”

Although it seems simple, The idea of the Times had “actual malice” for Palin is transparently obvious. You have to show it in the actual work environment. They can merely cry it was an “honest error,” and federal judges will rule for “First Amendment protections.”

The newspaper which boasted in Trump-era advertisements that “The truth — it’s more important now than ever” goes to court under the banner of “The truth is less important than our intentions.”

To demonstrate that malicious newspapers now spur malicious social media outbursts, Palin’s complaint noted “the widely circulated and heavily promoted Palin Article resulted in hatred and hostility toward Mrs. Palin.”  As one example, they cited a Democratic strategist who  tagged Palin in a tweet about the false link between Palin and the Giffords shooting along with the hashtag “#HuntRepublicans.”

In an attempt to shame conservatives into retaining this actual-malice standard, CNN’s Darcy claimed Fox News was dramatically more reckless than the liberal side. “The reporting from mainstream news sources tends to be a lot more buttoned up than reporting in right-wing media. Fox defends itself against the lawsuits brought by Smartmatic and Dominion, which are targeting voting tech companies Smartmatic, Dominion, and Fox. Which is to say that the attempts to reduce press freedom on the right could backfire in enormous ways.”

Who was more “buttoned up”? Fox News has never reported Dominion or Smartmatic causing a mass shooting. This is what we can confirm. But Toobin agreed with Darcy that Fox needs that Sullivan standard, because allegedly “The New York TimesHe made only one error and was responsible for his actions. Fox was the gateway for a torrent of lies that nearly destroyed these companies and has never appropriately apologized.”

Ironically, media outlets hate the idea of having to share their internal memos with their peers and have their professional conduct evaluated publicly. They demonstrate the old maxim about who can dish it out but can’t take it. Even losing in court doesn’t mean conservatives can’t win in exposing seriously awful journalism.

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