The New York Times had argued for a lawsuit against them by former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin to be tossed out, but a New York federal court judge is not letting them off the hook.
Thursday Judge Jed Rakoff in New York ruled that the writers who falsely connected Palin to the assassination attempt of Gabby Giffords in a New York Times editorial must show up to testify at a hearing next Wednesday.
An outraged Palin filed a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times in July, sending subpoenas to 23 staffers of the liberal news outlet, after they published an editorial following the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, in which Palin’s “rhetoric” was linked to the Tucson shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including then-Rep. Giffords.
The editorial alleged that Palin was part of a “sickeningly familiar pattern” of political violence which “incited” Jared Lee Loughner to shoot Giffords.
Palin slammed the NY Times over the claim, and the paper acknowledged that no such connection existed. The editorial had also alleged that an advertisement from Palin’s super PAC had “placed Giffords and 19 other Democrats under styilized crosshairs,” another claim the NY Times had to admit was false.
In an effort to document the Times’ bias against her, Palin’s legal team has demanded that the NY Times turn over “every internal communication it has had about her since 2011.”
Since the judge ordered the writers will indeed have to testify, David McCraw, the deputy general counsel for the Times, said Thursday that James Bennet, the editorial page editor for the Times, would be the one to testify as a witness, according to a Breitbart report.
Palin’s legal team will reportedly be allowed to question the writer or writers for up to 45 minutes, with the Times’ lawyers being allowed 30 minutes, and the defense will get 15 minutes.
The Times is desperately trying to get the suit dismissed, to prevent Palin’s legal time from questioning all 23 current and former staffers listed in the suit, and have argued that it was all just an “honest mistake.”
However, Breitbart noted, it took heavy backlash from Palin and the public just to get NY Times to make two corrections to the editorial.
William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection said in a statement about the judge’s order, “Make no mistake, however, this is a gift to Palin’s team. They get what they normally are not entitled to at this stage — testimony. That testimony, though limited in time, could be a goldmine of information. Media defendants usually win these motions to dismiss on the papers. That the Times has not yet done so should give the Palin team encouragement.”
Additional observations by Jacobson about the case:
“The Order is unusual because normally motions to dismiss are decided on the papers, and the court must determine all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party (Palin, here). One of the key factual allegations in the Complaint is that the NY Times was aware that Palin’s map had nothing to do with the Giffords shooting, because prior NY Times articles so stated. So, by inference, the authors of the Editorial ignored information available at the NY Times itself.
“The Judge appears to be requiring not just imputed knowledge of prior NY Times articles, but actual knowledge by the authors of the Editorial in order to find a reasonable inference of actual malice. That the Judge says the issue is a “close question” based on the pleadings demonstrates that if Palin survives the motion to dismiss, it will turn on who knew what, and when.
“Palin’s attorneys will seek not only to demonstrate actual knowledge, but also such reckless disregard for the truth as to establish actual malice. How could the authors of the Editorial not at least do a search of the NY Times itself? And as to the members of the Editorial Board in whose name the Editorial appeared, but who may not have been “authors” of it, why should their knowledge or lack thereof be ignored.”
Below is the judge’s order:
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