New York Times Defamation Suit Paused Over Sarah Palin’s Sudden Health Announcement

Gage Skidmore Flickr

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against The New York Times has been delayed after the Republican tested positive for Covid-19.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Judge Jed Rakoff, who is overseeing the trial, disclosed that he had learned about Palin’s two consecutive positive COVID-19 tests before noting, “She is, of course, unvaccinated,” according to New York Law Journal’s Jane Wester.

Rakoff told the court that he asked Palin to obtain a different test. Her lawyer said that Palin’s next test, a PCR test, would occur later that morning.

Palin’s lawyer said that the 2008 vice presidential candidate was “confused” by the lines on the PCR test and that she walked to a nearby urgent care for a test. There, she tested positive a third time. Rakoff said that he assumes three positive tests are proof of an infection and delayed the trial until Feb. 3 unless she is symptomatic that day.

Palin filed a lawsuit against the New York Times in August in the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit alleges that a 2017 editorial by Elizabeth Williamson defamed her when it linked her to the 2011 deadly shooting that seriously wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords. The editorial asserted a connection between an ad released by Palin’s political action committee and the 2011 shooter. The New York Times amended the editorial within 24 hours, noting that there was no direct connection between the shooting and Palin’s ad.

In 2020, Rakoff said there was “sufficient evidence to allow a rational finder of fact to find actual malice by clear and convincing evidence” and said the lawsuit could go to trial. The case is being watched over possible First Amendment implications for the media.



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