Sarah Palin suggested on Twitter earlier today that she might sue the New York Times for libel and/or slander.
On Wednesday, the Times published an editorial about the shooting of GOP Rep. Steve Scalise at an Alexandria, Virginia, softball field by a Bernie Sanders supporter who also wounded several others among the large group of lawmakers and staffers present when he opened fire.
The publication attempted to tie that in with the shooting of then-Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a Democrat who has since become a prominent gun control advocate, in January 2011 by Jared Loughner. Six people died in that attack, and 13 were injured. Loughner is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison.
The newspaper claimed that a map of various congressional districts under crosshairs distributed by Palin’s political action committee was supposedly a form of motivation for the 2011 attack, which was a previously discredited allegation.
Twitter determined the Times was promulgating fake news or perhaps fake responsibility, as the Washington Free Beacon reported, in part because the gunman was apolitical.
“But as scores of outraged Twitter users pointed out, there is no evidence that Loughner was a fan of Palin, had seen her map, or was even politically right wing. Under pressure, the Times updated the op-ed to avoid directly linking Palin and ‘political incitement’ to the Giffords shooting.”
“There is no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that Loughner, a schizophrenic, was at all inspired by Palin’s electoral map,” added The Daily Caller.
Moreover, the kind of imagery in question for getting out the vote efforts, fundraising, and the like has traditionally be used by both parties and has nothing to do with violence.
On her Facebook page, the former governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP presidential nominee described the Times editorial as “sickening.”
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As alluded to above, the Times subsequently and quietly edited its editorial to include language stating that no connection between the shooting and Parlin’s map was ever validated
It added a similar correction at the bottom of the editorial.
“An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established.”
Earlier today, Sarah Palin tweeted a link to a column from BlastingNews.com that wondered if the Tea Party favorite has a case for a lawsuit against the New York Times over the Giffords-related accusation. The column suggested that the Times demonstrated a reckless disregard for the truth, which can be a component of libel (i.e., character assassination) in legalese.
Libel is generally considered the written word, while slander refers to the spoken word.
Praising the idea of legal action against the so-called newspaper of record as a common sense suggestion, Sarah Palin noted that she is discussing her options with lawyers
Under U.S. law, someone deemed to be a public figure (i.e., a celebrity or other high-profile individual) has a difficult task in winning money damages in court for libel because the media industry gets a lot of slack. It remains to be seen if Sarah Palin will go ahead and sue the New York Times.
Just a few minutes ago, Sarah Palin asked her 1.4 million Twitter followers to weigh in on the possibility of a lawsuit against the New York Times. Watch this space for updates.
[Featured Image by Cliff Owen/AP Images]