Former NYT Editor Denies Blaming Sarah Palin For Mass Shooting

REUTERS/Stephen Yang

Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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Former New York Times editor, James Bennet, testified in court Wednesday that he did not deliberately blame former Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the mass shooting that severely injured former Democratic Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

A 2017 editorial by the New York Times, “America’s Lethal Politics,” is at the center of the defamation lawsuit Palin filed asserting the editorial pushed unfounded claims. Palin claims Bennet and the New York Times purposefully wove a narrative that her political action committee incited the shooting that killed six people and wounded Giffords in January of 2011. (RELATED: ‘Would Love To’: Sarah Palin Signals Her Return To Politics Ahead Of 2022 Midterms)

The New York Times’ lawyer, David Axelrod, asked Bennet under oath if he intended to “harm” Palin when he changed the editorial’s wording, according to a Reuter’s report.

“No, I didn’t,” Bennet answered. “We don’t promise to be perfect, we promise to try our damnedest to be perfect, and when we’re not, we try to fix it.”

The editorial, published in 2017, stated, “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.”

Bennet called his actions “a mistake,” saying, “I’ve edited and written hundreds of pieces on deadline, thousands. I have made very few mistakes, at least ones that I know of,” according to Reuters. He lamented that the move caused the New York Times’ to appear partisan.

He said,” It’s extremely important for the editorial board to have a reputation to call balls and strikes without partisanship,” according to Reuters.

Bennet admitted that he had not issued Palin an apology even after being forced to change his wording by the mounting critics, according to the New York Post. He said he didn’t think Palin would see his apology was done “in good faith.”

“It would look like an effort to get out of a lawsuit,” Bennet said.

Palin’s lawsuit is seeking $421,000 in damages, according to Reuters.