By Bob Van Voris
Feb 10, 2022, 7:06 PM – Updated on Feb 10, 2022, 9:43 PM
Word Count: 511
The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee testified Thursday in Manhattan federal court about the piece titled “America’s Lethal Politics.” She claims it wrongly tied a map published by her political action committee, SarahPac, to a 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, in which six people were killed and 14 wounded, including then-U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.
“It was devastating to read, again, an accusation, a false accusation, that I had anything to do with murder, murdering innocent people,” Palin testified. “And I felt powerless.”
The editorial was published in June 2017 after a gunman opened fire in Alexandria, Virginia, on Republicans practicing for a congressional baseball game. U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, the current House minority whip, was seriously wounded in the shooting.
Palin claims the Times and former opinion page editor James Bennet disregarded the truth to push a biased narrative about her. The Times corrected errors in the piece about 12 hours after it was published, and Bennet testified earlier in the trial that he didn’t have any intention to harm her or mislead readers. He also said he didn’t believe the piece blamed Palin for inciting the shooting.
A number of reports in 2011 tied the SarahPAC map, which showed stylized cross-hairs over Democratic congressional districts, including Giffords’, to the shooting. Palin said on Thursday that she received a number of “disturbing” death threats, some mentioning her children, immediately after the shooting. An investigation later determined that the shooter, who was mentally ill, had anger towards Gifford unrelated to the map.
Palin testified that she didn’t ask the Times for a correction in 2017 because she didn’t think it would’ve been worthwhile. “They had just accused me of inciting murder,” she said. “I didn’t think was was going to get a friendly response.”
The conservative Republican was critical of the famously liberal newspaper’s coverage in general. “My view was the New York Times took a lot of liberties and wasn’t always truthful,” she said.
Read more: Palin Takes on N.Y. Times in Trial Targeting Press Protections
Palin claims the 2017 piece harmed her reputation. On cross-examination, David Axelrod, a lawyer for the Times, asked her questions aimed at showing that she remains a prominent political and cultural figure.
He asked her if she might challenge Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a critic of former President Donald Trump, in a Republican primary. Palin downplayed the possibility but said, “I’ve always said the door is always open” to a return to electoral politics.
Axelrod also asked Palin about her 2020 appearance on “The Masked Singer,” in which she performed Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” while dressed as a plush bear.
“It was the most fun 90 seconds of my life,” Palin told the jury.
The case is Palin v. New York Times Co., 17-cv-04853, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).