The New York Times has asked a judge to toss out a defamation lawsuit former Alaska governor Sarah Palin filed against it, saying there was not actual malice in a recent editorial it quickly corrected after readers complained.
The newspaper said in court papers late Friday that its prompt and full correction of an editorial that referenced Palin’s political action committee nullifies her claims.
Palin sued the Times in Manhattan federal court last month, saying the newspaper had accused her of inciting the mass shooting that severely wounded then-Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. She sought unspecified damages.
The lawsuit referenced a June editorial in the Times on the recent shooting of Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise. In the editorial, the Times wrote that before the shooting of Giffords, Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.
The editorial was criticized by some readers who challenged the notion that the map constituted “political incitement” or that there was any “link” between it and the Arizona shootings, the Times lawyers said.
They said the Times revised the online version of the editorial the following morning to remove those references and to make clear that the crosshair on the map appeared over Giffords’ district rather than over her name or image.
The lawyers also noted that the newspaper published a series of corrections and wrote on social media: “We’re sorry about this and we appreciate that our readers called us on the mistake.”
Times lawyers noted that the plain words of the editorial referenced Palin’s “SarahPAC” political action committee rather than Palin herself.
“It is well established that defamatory words directed at a corporation or other entity simply do not give rise to a claim by the individuals associated with it,” the lawyers wrote.