A federal judge has dismissed Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times for publishing an editorial linking her to the shooting of former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords.
In an opinion filed in the U.S. District Court of Southern New York on Tuesday, Judge Jed Rakoff said that while The Times did not defame Palin because the newspaper “very rapidly corrected” the inaccurate parts of the editorial, which was published in response to a left-wing activist shooting Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice for the annual Congressional baseball game.
In the original version of the piece, The Times asserted that Jared Loughner was motivated to shoot up a Giffords political event in Tucson because of a political ad published by a political action committee supporting Palin.
Loughner, who was diagnosed schizophrenic, killed six people and severely wounded Giffords in the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting. Democrats initially attempted to link the shooting to Palin, but it was later revealed that Loughner did not carry out the shooting because of Palin.
In his ruling, Rakoff said that Palin’s defamation claim was based on “weak” evidence.
“What we have here is an editorial, written and rewritten rapidly in order to voice an opinion on an immediate event of importance, in which are included a few factual inaccuracies somewhat pertaining to Mrs. Palin that are very rapidly corrected. Negligence this may be; but defamation of a public figure it plainly is not,” Rakoff wrote in the opinion.
In a note on its corrected article, The Times wrote:
An editorial on Thursday about the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise 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 editorial also incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting. It depicted electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath stylized cross hairs.