Sarah Palin filed a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times on Tuesday over an editorial that ran that suggested that her rhetoric incited the 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona that killed six people and severely injured Rep. Gabby Giffords.
The Times ran its editorial in the wake of the recent June 14 shooting attack on House Republicans in Alexandria, Va., as they were practicing for a congressional baseball game. The Times editorial focused on politically motivated violence against members of Congress, noting that James Hodgkinson, described as a Bernie Sanders supporter, targeted the lawmakers. Hodgkinson was killed during the rampage.
In the aftermath of the 2011 shootings, initial attention focused on whether the assailant, Jared Loughner, had political motivations for his rampage.
The Times editorial noted that a political action committee affiliated with Palin had circulated a map that showed electoral districts of Democrats, including Giffords’ district, as gun target cross hairs.
But no connection was ever established between that map and Loughner’s motivations, and, after an outcry on social media, the Times later noted that in an addendum to the editorial and a correction.
“The Times published and promoted its Editorial Board’s column despite knowing that the linchpin of its ‘sickening pattern’ of politically-incited shootings was the false assertion that Mrs. Palin incited Loughner to murder six people, among them a child and federal judge, and seriously wont numerous others,” Palin’s suit states.
A Times spokeswoman said that they had not yet reviewed the lawsuit, but they “will defend against any claim vigorously.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York.
Palin’s suit argues that the Times’ later edits and “half -hearted Twitter apologies” are insufficient, as “none mentioned Mrs. Palin or acknowledged that Mrs. Palin did not incite a deranged man to commit murder.”
Her lawsuit notes that Loughner’s criminal proceedings “revealed that be was a mentally unstable man who was obsessed with Representative Giffords long before 2011.”
“It took Mrs. Palin years to overcome the detrimental impacts of the false speculation that she caused Loughner to commit murder,” her suit states. “Unfortunately, members of the media perceive Mrs. Palin as a convenient target for attacks against conservative policies and a subject likely to spark readership interest.”
The lawsuit makes the case that the Times’ own past articles “would have demonstrated that there was not direct and clear link between Mrs. Palin and Loughner’s heinous acts.”
Palin is seeking unspecified damages, and injunctive relief prohibiting the publication of the “defamatory statements” in the editorial.