The New York Times’ Absurdity is Its Best Defense Against Palin’s Suit

Sarah Palin sued the New York Times yesterday over its editorial claiming that SarahPAC’s advertisements resulted in former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz) getting shot in 2011. The editorial was so absurd that the Times retracted it the following day:

Nevertheless, the Times will have the upper hand in court. This is partly because Palin is a public figure for purposes of defamation law and therefore has a higher evidentiary burden to meet than would a private citizen. And partly because New York judges and juries detest Alaska’s former governor even more than they do Donald Trump, somebody they consider to be one of their own despite his vulgarity (or, perhaps, because of it).  There might be other potential defenses, too.

The Times’  legal ace in the hole, however, is the absurdity of its editorial. A successful libel suit requires a false statement. But courts have held that “rhetorical hyperbole which no reasonable reader would believe” is not actionable.

Thus, counterintuitive as it may seem, a false statement about a plaintiff can actually be too false for her to win a libel suit if no reasonable person would take the statement seriously. This describes perfectly the Times’ editorial about Palin:

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.

The Times has a viable defense against Palin’s libel suit because no reasonable reader would have been stupid enough to believe the paper’s assertion that Palin caused Gifford to be shot.

Defenses in any kind of case, however, can have collateral consequences. For example, testifying that you were with your gay lover during the evening your business partner got whacked might enable you to beat a murder rap. But you’ll be doing some explaining later on when you get home to the missus.

The Times faces a similar quandary. An absurdity defense offered by “America’s paper of record” would likely defeat Palin’s libel suit. But the Times would then have to explain to its readers why it puts absurd claims on its editorial pages.

Palin’s star has dimmed since the halcyon days of the 2008 convention. And she’ll likely lose this suit. But beating Palin might require the New York Times to acknowledge in court that its editorial is more absurd than she is. If the case turns on that issue, then (1) Palin will have performed a great service to the public and (2) the Times will richly deserve to win the case.

Sarah Palin Responds To New York Times Editorial

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has publicly responded to the New York Times editorial that linked her to the 2011 mass shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. Palin tweeted a snapshot of an article that suggested she has grounds to sue the NYT for libel.

In an opinion piece on Wednesday, the NYT editorial board linked the 2011 mass shooting of former Rep. Giffords to a congressional “target” map Palin had released earlier – the map was pertaining to Democratic-controlled districts that held potential for GOP gains.

The claim by the NYT is a regurgitation of a conspiracy theory that was debunked long ago. Immediately following the 2011 shooting in Tucson, some on the left tried to argue the perpetrator’s (Jared Loughner) actions were a result of hateful, conservative rhetoric. A simple background check into Loughner’s life revealed he was a deranged individual who held no substantive partisan preferences. The ridiculous connection was even further disproved when it was revealed Loughner had developed an obsession with Giffords as early as 2007 – about four years before Palin’s map was ever released.

No matter. The New York Times decided on Wednesday to drudge up this baseless connection in an attempt to equate the Alexandria, Virginia shooting by a liberal Bernie Bro to the 2011 Tucson shooting.

The opinion piece was roundly criticized by those on the right and left. The editorial board quickly retracted the controversial section of the article.

Before suggesting on Twitter she may sue the New York Times for libel, Palin had previously criticized the article via her Facebook page:

With this sickening NYT’s editorial, the media is doing exactly what I said yesterday should not be done. Despite commenting as graciously as I could on media coverage of yesterday’s shooting, alas, today a perversely biased media’s knee-jerk blame game is attempting to destroy innocent people with lies and more fake news. As I said yesterday, I’d hoped the media had collectively matured since the last attack on a Representative when media coverage spewed blatant lies about who was to blame. There’s been no improvement. The NYT has gotten worse. – SP

New York Times Blames Sarah Palin for the DC Shooting

Gov. Palin and I may have our differences, but I am offended for her with this New York Times editorial that seeks to lay blame for the DC shooting at Palin’s feet. The New York Times editorial board wrote,

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.

The implication is revisionist history. We know that Jared Lee Loughner was, to the extent political, of the left, but his political affiliations were not meaningful. He was not inspired by that map in any way, shape, or form.

This paragraph is completely irresponsible by the Times and attempts to engage in a “you started it” argument to dodge the fact the Times itself has now published multiple stories alleging massive collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the republic and then had to retract those stories. There is no evidence Loughner acted because of that map, but there is ample evidence the Times’s reporting and the leftwing echo chamber in which the Times’ editorial board exists incited and inspired the shooter in Washington.

The very fact that the New York Times cannot deal honestly with the situation shows that they have no intention of the situation changing and are perfectly happy when the bullets fly right.

The Implications of Donald Trump’s Sarah Palin Endorsement

It is hard to imagine there is anyone who has been sitting on the sidelines, undecided about Donald Trump, who has been waiting for Sarah Palin to endorse him. Sure, there are a few, but really not that many.

Just ask yourself this: who has Trump been unable to get off the couch that will suddenly stand up and go vote for Donald Trump because of Sarah Palin? I just do not see Sarah Palin’s endorsement bringing a large number of people to Trump’s side now.

This is a future play, not an Iowa play.

Sarah Palin gives Trump legitimacy. She is a former Republican governor and vice presidential nominee endorsing the front runner few take seriously just as so few took her seriously. Right now, every campaign and editorialist in America is piling on Ted Cruz. Palin is not an endorsement to get new people to vote for Trump. She is an endorsement to get Ted Cruz’s voters to go to Trump after Iowa.

Cruz, most strategists would agree, gives up his path to victory if he does not win Iowa. Cruz’s team may disagree, but if Trump wins Iowa, exactly how is Cruz stopping Trump in South Carolina or Georgia or Tennessee?

The Trump team is smart enough to know that most of the establishment folks now making kissy face with Trump would gut him in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. If Trump can do their bidding and end Cruz in Iowa, Palin can give Trump legitimacy with some Cruz voters.

The other thing the Palin endorsement does is draw a clearer line between conservatives and reactionaries on the right. Cruz is now running as the principled conservative and Trump as the reactionary conservative. Sarah Palin has long spoken up for that part of the party and this expands Trump’s bona fides.

But as for Iowa, I do not see Sarah Palin’s endorsement driving more people to the polls for Trump who are not already planning on going. It also sends a signal to Ted Cruz he needs to be working the ground relentlessly. His campaign has the best ground game in Iowa and is better able to pick up small shifts on the ground. They’ll know they need to respond and we’ll know depending on any scheduling changes to Ted Cruz’s schedule.

I Wish I Had Known

Back on July 1, 2013, one of the front page contributors at RedState posted a piece taking issue with something Sarah Palin had said. He used for the “featured image” an image that was salacious and fake. I would not mention this except both Governor Palin and her daughter Bristol have now pointed it out as a bit of hypocrisy on my part related to the Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump situation.

It happened in 2013. I wish I had known from the Palin camp before now that this was a lingering issue. I’ve tried to always defend the Palin family as they have been subject to so much unfair abuse. In fact, the day after that piece appeared, I penned a response defending Governor Palin. I had the picture in question taken down as well.

You can see the piece that caused the controversy here. You can see my defense of Governor Palin here. I posted it the very next day.

Certainly Governor Palin and Bristol Palin can wonder why I was not more responsive and demanding of an immediate pull down. As Leon Wolf noted in this defense of me, it took some time. Truth be told, though I’m “editor” of the site, the front page contributors will tell you that doesn’t mean jack when it comes to them. We’re a team of equals.

But the picture was a scam and it was inappropriate and I should have acted immediately. So I’ve been kicking myself to figure out why I did not act sooner.

Unfortunately, going back into my calendar, I know why I was slow to respond. I was in the hospital on July 1, 2013, with my wife. I had to rush her to the emergency room that day and was out of pocket that day and the next, though even while attending to my wife made sure to mount a defense of Governor Palin.1 I was the only paid employee at RedState at the time and one of the only Palin supporters on the front page of RedState by 2013. The contributors were telling me the picture was real, I was in the hospital, and I went with trusting the guys I’m surrounded with every day and who I’d empowered to decide these things while I was tied up.

I am sorry the Palin family has held on to this for so long. I certainly meant no offense and tried to respond as quickly as I could to it, but was limited at the time due to my own family circumstances.

I certainly do not fault them. They have come under attacks from all sides and I can only imagine they must have, then and now, had concerns about who were fully with them and who are just using them and who hate them.

I mounted Operation Leper after the 2008 defeat to drive from politics those from the McCain campaign who engaged in character assassination on Sarah Palin. A few years ago, Nichole Wallace credited me with turning her into an author because of Operation Leper.

I have not always agreed with Governor Palin, but have always tried to defend her and her family, including when the creepy author moved next door and the CNN anchor found an assault on Bristol Palin to be comedy and including the day after that questionable post went up when I was trying to get Christy back on her feet.

I really am sorry that they did not know the reason it took so long to respond and I am really am sorry that hurt feelings have lingered on for more than two years. I understand, given what the Palin family has gone through, and am sorry there are those who want to continue to drag them through the mud. I have certainly never wanted that for them. They are good people. I wish I had known about this before now so I could have told them why it took so long.


1. As regular readers know, Christy and I have had more than our fair share of visits to hospitals in our fifteen years of marriage. This was just another one related to a terrible, multi-day migraine. I filled in for Herman Cain that morning, got off air, and spent the rest of the day in the hospital until I could find someone to deal with the kids.

Sarah Palin & Ted Cruz: The Two Most Powerful People on Earth

When Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona, the left went into a frenzy blaming Sarah Palin. In fact, when I was on CNN, I went on TV with Cornell Belcher and he was livid when I suggested leftwing rhetoric could be as hostile and divisive as rightwing rhetoric, if not more so.

John King was apologetic for using war metaphors for politics and promised to stop.

Wolf Blitzer, at one point, did a profile of Democratic congress critters who’d had death threats against them. Mind you, Eric Cantor, Jim DeMint, and other Republicans had had the same, but they were not in the report.

Sarah Palin had the ability to drive crazy people to kill. When Ted Cruz came on the scene, he too had the power to drive conservatives to assassinate, kill, maim, and riot. Mere words from these two politicians could drive white folks crazy with rage against the political process and Democrats. By just saying Obama, they could cause people to unleash their inner Klansman.

When a nut job in Texas flew a plane into the IRS building down there, he was immediately presumed to be an angry tea partier fired up on Palin/Cruz rage until they found the communist manifesto in his belongings.

When the gunman took hostages at the Discovery TV Network, he was immediately presumed to be a rightwing nut fueled on mass hysteria until his demands revealed him to be an environmentalist wacko.

Now, in New York City, a man has gunned down two police officers. He did so after repeated anti-police rhetoric from the President, Eric Holder, and New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio who, himself, all but encouraged retaliation on the police after the Eric Garner situation.

President Obama promised to fundamentally transform America. We just didn’t expect that transformation to involve a war on police.

But, in reality, the individual who killed the two policemen was deeply disturbed. Just like all the others. Neither side should blame the other.

The left, willing to play along and blame Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin and their rhetoric for deaths, is apoplectic with rage that anyone would accuse them of the same.

CNN will no doubt focus on the mental state of this individual in ways it rarely would if it happened from the right. The coverage will be less than that of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and there will be no reflection, or only limited reflection, by CNN or anyone else in the press on whether their own coverage led to two policemen being murdered in cold blood.

Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz must be the two most powerful people in the world. Their words can affect the minds and souls of people in ways President Obama, Eric Holder, Bill DeBlasio and others on the left cannot. For the leftwing politicians, it is just words. Those on the right, their words can seemingly drive people to violence.

Or at least the media would have you believe precisely that.

Sarah Palin & Ted Cruz: The Two Most Powerful People on Earth

When Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona, the left went into a frenzy blaming Sarah Palin. In fact, when I was on CNN, I went on TV with Cornell Belcher and he was livid when I suggested leftwing rhetoric could be as hostile and divisive as rightwing rhetoric, if not more so.

John King was apologetic for using war metaphors for politics and promised to stop.

Wolf Blitzer, at one point, did a profile of Democratic congress critters who’d had death threats against them. Mind you, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Eric Cantor48%House Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard48%, Jim DeMint, and other Republicans had had the same, but they were not in the report.

Sarah Palin had the ability to drive crazy people to kill. When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Ted Cruz95%Senate Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard95% came on the scene, he too had the power to drive conservatives to assassinate, kill, maim, and riot. Mere words from these two politicians could drive white folks crazy with rage against the political process and Democrats. By just saying Obama, they could cause people to unleash their inner Klansman.

When a nut job in Texas flew a plane into the IRS building down there, he was immediately presumed to be an angry tea partier fired up on Palin/Cruz rage until they found the communist manifesto in his belongings.

When the gunman took hostages at the Discovery TV Network, he was immediately presumed to be a rightwing nut fueled on mass hysteria until his demands revealed him to be an environmentalist wacko.

Now, in New York City, a man has gunned down two police officers. He did so after repeated anti-police rhetoric from the President, Eric Holder, and New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio who, himself, all but encouraged retaliation on the police after the Eric Garner situation.

President Obama promised to fundamentally transform America. We just didn’t expect that transformation to involve a war on police.

But, in reality, the individual who killed the two policemen was deeply disturbed. Just like all the others. Neither side should blame the other.

The left, willing to play along and blame Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Ted Cruz95%Senate Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard95% and Sarah Palin and their rhetoric for deaths, is apoplectic with rage that anyone would accuse them of the same.

CNN will no doubt focus on the mental state of this individual in ways it rarely would if it happened from the right. The coverage will be less than that of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and there will be no reflection, or only limited reflection, by CNN or anyone else in the press on whether their own coverage led to two policemen being murdered in cold blood.

Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Ted Cruz95%Senate Republican AverageSee Full Scorecard95% must be the two most powerful people in the world. Their words can affect the minds and souls of people in ways President Obama, Eric Holder, Bill DeBlasio and others on the left cannot. For the leftwing politicians, it is just words. Those on the right, their words can seemingly drive people to violence.

Or at least the media would have you believe precisely that.

The post Sarah Palin & Ted Cruz: The Two Most Powerful People on Earth appeared first on RedState.