Sarah Palin’s defamation trial against The New York Times was delayed on Monday by a judge following the former Alaska governor’s positive coronavirus test.
Palin is reportedly unvaccinated, and it is unclear if she is showing any symptoms of COVID-19. A positive test result simply means she tested positive for the virus that can cause COVID-19, not that she actually has the disease.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Palin tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the same day jury selection was set to begin in her trial accusing the Times of defamation. The trial has been pushed back 10 days to February 3.
“The trial before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff marks a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury. Opening statements could take place as soon as Monday, following jury selection,” Reuters reported. “Palin bears the high burden of showing by clear and convincing evidence that there was ‘actual malice’ involved in the newspaper’s editorial writing process.”
Palin first filed a lawsuit against the Times in 2017, but it was dismissed by a judge. Two years later, a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit, leading to a trial that will take about two weeks starting next month. Palin’s lawsuit stems from a 2017 editorial in which the Times falsely claimed there was a “clear” link between a map that Palin’s PAC distributed and the 2011 shooting that left former Rep. Gabby Giffords with a severe brain injury. Palin’s map put crosshairs over multiple districts the PAC thought Republicans could win, a fairly standard practice for such organizations (though they might not use crosshairs to mark the districts).
There was never any evidence that Palin’s map inspired or was even seen by the man who shot Giffords, killed six others, and injured 12 more.
Multiple left-leaning media outlets tried to blame Palin’s map for the shooting when it occurred, but no connection was ever proven and the shooter turned out to be a mentally ill man who couldn’t be defined as right-wing or left-wing. Though the link between Palin and the assassination attempt was only made by the left-wing media and had no proof, the Times editorial included that accusation six years later, which is why Palin is suing them for defamation.
The Supreme Court in 1964 ruled that a public figure must prove an outlet operated with “actual malice” when it defamed them, a notoriously difficult and high bar for most public figures to prove. Palin must prove this, which is made more difficult by the fact that the Times corrected the editorial and issued an apology two days after publication. The Times maintains that the claim was merely an “inaccuracy,” and it will be difficult for Palin to prove otherwise.
Palin has already indicated that if she loses at trial she will attempt to take the case to the Supreme Court in an attempt to relitigate the 1964 ruling, ironically called The New York Times v. Sullivan. If that were to happen, Palin may catch a break, as Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have suggested the standard in Sullivan needs to be revisited.