Federal judge Jed S. Rakoff has dismissed Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times, ruling that she had failed to show that the Times defamed her in its June editorial stating that she was responsible in part for the Tucson shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others by the deranged Jared Loughner. Rakoff’s ruling argued that the statements in the Times editorial were ambiguous (where have I heard this before?), and thus did not qualify as “provably false,” resulting in insufficient evidence that the Times had written the story with “actual malice.”
“[I]f political journalism is to achieve its constitutionally endorsed role of challenging the powerful, legal redress by a public figure must be limited to those cases where the public figure has a plausible factual basis for complaining that the mistake was made maliciously, that is, with knowledge it was false or with reckless disregard of its falsity,” Rakoff wrote.
Right. Except that to write what it did, the New York Times Editors had to be unaware of what the Times itself had reported regarding Palin’s alleged culpability for the shooting. The Times reported, in great detail at the time, that the claim that Palin’s website had inspired Loughner was completely without merit.
A newspaper’s editors impugning a public figure by blaming her for multiple murders and the attempted assassination of a Congresswoman without checking its own reporting doesn’t qualify as “reckless disregard of its falsity”? If that isn’t reckless disregard, what is? Continue reading