Sarah Palin's lawsuit against New York Times dismissed

Sketch shows Sarah Palin in federal court in New York, Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. (Court Sketch by Jane Rosenberg)

A judge is going to dismiss Sarah Palin's libel case against the New York Times.

The judge ruled the former Alaska governor's case over a 2017 editorial should be thrown out because her lawyers didn't provide evidence that the paper purposely published false information or acted with malice to damage her reputation.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff says he will not file his ruling until after the jury reaches its verdict because he expects it to be appealed.

A widely circulated New York Times editorial falsely linked Palin to a mass shooting.

A Times lawyer conceded the newspaper had made a mistake but argued there was no evidence it had set out to damage Palin.  The paper ran a correction but never apologized to Palin.

In his closing argument, Times lawyer David Axelrod called the case "incredibly important because it’s about freedom of the press."


The First Amendment protects journalists "who make an honest mistake when they write about a person like Sarah Palin … That’s all this was about — an honest mistake," Axelrod said.

To prevail in the suit, the plaintiff "needs to show that it wasn’t just an honest mistake" but "that they printed something that they knew was false," he said. The evidence showed "Gov. Palin can’t come close to meeting that burden," he added.

He also pointed out that the Palin lawsuit makes no claim that she lost income because of the editorial. "She doesn't do that because it didn't happen."

Jurors deliberated about two hours at the end of the day without reaching a verdict on Friday. They resumed deliberating on Monday morning.

Palin vs nyt

Palin sued the Times for unspecified damages in 2017, about a decade after she burst onto the national stage as the Republican vice-presidential nominee. She alleged the newspaper had damaged her career as a political commentator and consultant with the editorial about gun control published after U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was wounded when a man with a history of anti-GOP activity opened fire on a Congressional baseball team practice in Washington.

In the editorial, the Times wrote that before the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that severely wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed six others, Palin’s political action committee had contributed to an atmosphere of violence by circulating a map of electoral districts that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized crosshairs.

In a correction two days after the editorial was published, The Times said the editorial had "incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting" and that it had "incorrectly described" the map.


The trial had to be delayed because Palin tested positive for the coronavirus as it was set to begin.

"She is of course unvaccinated," U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said in announcing the delay on Jan. 24.  The trial began on Feb. 3, 2022.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.