Case Dismissed! Judge Kills Sarah Palin’s Dream of Bankrupting NYT

A win for sloppy editors everywhere

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 03: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin arrives at a federal court in M...
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Not Actual Malice

The Fourth Estate lives to see another day: Sarah Palin has lost her libel lawsuit against the New York Times, with U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff announcing on Monday that he will order the dismissal of the suit, Reuters reports.

For the past week and a half, the judge and a jury have heard the arguments from both sides in this Manhattan trial. Palin, represented by lawyers who helped bankrupt this website’s predecessor, argued that the Times achieved the defamation standard of “actual malice” by recklessly and falsely suggesting a link between the former Alaska governor and the mass shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and others in an opinion piece about incendiary political rhetoric and violence. The Times argued that this error — which was made by former editorial page editor James Bennet — was an honest and soon-corrected mistake that did not stem from particular animus toward Palin, but rather a rushed editorial process.

Throughout the course of the trial, Palin’s team failed to convincingly prove that there was a conspiracy at the Times to smear the one-time vice-presidential candidate. But the Gray Lady did not come out looking great, either; as depositions and testimony revealed, even at an institution like the Times — with all its prestige and resources — people make stupid, sloppy mistakes in the scramble to pump out hot takes.

Palin was expected to lose the case, but in a somewhat unusual twist, Judge Rakoff announced his decision as jury deliberations are still ongoing. Rakoff said that he will wait to put in the order for dismissal until after the jury members, who are not aware of the judge’s ruling, have finished deliberating. This is apparently not just Rakoff being a drama queen, but because he expects Palin to appeal, and the appeals court “would greatly benefit from knowing how the jury would decide” the case.

If Palin does appeal, that will be her third time trying to make the Times pay for this opinion piece. Per NBC News, it’s unknown who is bankrolling her lawsuits. It may be safe to assume that The Masked Singer appearances do not pay enough to cover these legal costs.