The won’t and can’t, but they’ll deny that there’s bias anyway. Like Joe Biden, they choose “truth” over facts.
In an infamous 2017 editorial, New York Times Editorial Page Editor James Bennet wrote, “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.”
Not only was this false, the theory had been thoroughly dsiproven years before. Palin’s map had nothing to do with violence. “20 House Democrats from districts we carried in 2008 voted for the health care bill,” the caption said. “IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND.”
It was a call to defeat Affordable Care Act supporters, not to shoot them. The theory, pushed by the Times’ Paul Krugman among other left-wing pundits after the Tucson shooting, that Palin’s unremarkable advocacy inspired the attack, was unmoored to facts or logic. Loughner’s motives were vague, and he was insane, politically liberal, and unlikely to have been following Palin’s website. Linking Palin to the tragedy (others blamed Rush Limbaugh) was just the kind of dishonest cognitive dissonance game we are seeing now, with Democrats and the news media blaming President Trump for recent shootings.
On the theory that the Times crossed the line from opinion to malice when it intentionally publicized a false, six-year old smear, Palin sued the Times for libel. This week a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit, which had been thrown out by a lower court on First Amendment grounds.
The Times had quickly retracted its editor’s hit piece the next day, running a correction stating that Bennet had mistakenly claimed “that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords,” when “in fact, no such link was established.” The correction added that “the editorial also incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting.” The problem for the Times was and is that it does not seem likely that Bennet just made a mistake and was stating an honest opinion. He had served as editor of The Atlantic when it ran several articles showing the Palin-Loughner connection to be a fabrication. Moreover, the editorial linked to a 2011 ABC News article that stated that “no connection has been made between this graphic and the Arizona shooting.”
In a hearing to determine whether Palin’s suit should proceed, Bennet testified that he did not recall reading any of the articles in The Atlantic that disproved his thesis—that is, he claimed that he did not remember reading the content of the magazine he was responsible for editing, nor any other articles with similar conclusions in the Times, or other publications. (Consider what this tells us about the reliability of the Times, the alleged gold standard for the news media.) He also said he did not read the articles collected by the writer whon he gave the assignment writing the first draft of his editorial. One of those references was a column stating, “Loughner was likely insane, with no coherent ideological agenda” and an earlier Times editorial that said “it is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members.” ( Consider what this tells us about the reliability of the Times, the alleged gold standard for the news media. Wait, didn’t I just write that?)
Yet as bizarre as Bennet’s sworn testimony was, the judge dismissed Palin’s suit, writing, “Negligence this may be; but defamation of a public figure it plainly is not.”
Oh yeah? Last week a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit unanimously overturned that ruling and reinstated the suit, writing in part:
In both the original complaint and the PAC [proposed amended complaint], Palin’s overarching theory of actual malice is that Bennet had a “pre‐determined” argument he wanted to make in the editorial. Bennet’s fixation on this set goal, the claim goes, led him to publish a statement about Palin that he either knew to be false, or at least was reckless as to whether it was false. The PAC contains allegations that paint a plausible picture of this actual‐malice scenario in three respects: (1) Bennet’s background as an editor and political advocate provided sufficient evidence to permit a jury to find that he published the editorial with deliberate or reckless disregard for its truth, (2) the drafting and editorial process also permitted an inference of deliberate or reckless falsification, and (3) the Times’ subsequent correction to the editorial did not undermine the plausibility of that inference…[Palin’s claim] plausibly states a claim for defamation and may proceed to full discovery.”
That helps my flagging self-esteem: in 2017 I wrote this:
If I were Times management, I’d admit the malice, and the defamation, state that bias made the Times stupid and malicious, apologize to Palin, its readers and its defenders, and pay up. The alternative is to to proclaim incompetence, and to admit that its editors don’t exercise the minimal professional quality control of reading what their reporters write. After all, everybody knows the Times is biased and malicious toward conservatives. But we thought the paper at least tried to be competent.
Bennet is still editorial page editor for the New York Times.