Sarah Palin sued the New York Times yesterday, alleging defamation over an editorial that linked the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) to an ad circulated by the former Alaska governor that put Democratic districts in crosshairs, reports The Hill. Palin alleges that the newspaper falsely accused her of “inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011.” The former GOP vice presidential nominee accuses the paper of printing a claim it “knew to be false.” In a June 14 editorial, the Times said Palin’s political action committee released an ad that depicted Democratic lawmakers’s faces under crosshairs. In reality, the ad depicted the lawmakers’s districts, not their faces. The editorial centered on the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three others at a GOP baseball practice in suburban Washington, D.C. It noted the Palin map in arguing that there was a link between political incitement and the Giffords shooting.
The newspaper’s editors issued a correction, saying the article “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords.” “In fact, no such link was established,” the correction said. To prove defamation, Palin will have to prove that the Times acted with “malice..,” due to her distinction as a public figure. “We know this statement is false, in part because the New York Times walked it back,” said Heather Hansen, a Philadelphia-based attorney and LawNewz.com contributor. “The actual malice part is a little more difficult. She’d have to show a reckless disregard for the truth.” Hansen said that while Palin has an argument, opinion pieces are not usually subject to libel law.