Sarah Palin v. New York Times Goes to Trial: “It’s a sign that deference to the press in the courts is giving way to a more challenging legal landscape for journalists”

From a story on by Josh Gerstein headlined “Sarah Palin v. New York Times goes to trial”:

More than a decade after Sarah Palin found herself roundly mocked by the nation’s media elite as a small-town rube during her stint as Sen. John McCain’s populist vice presidential running mate, the former Alaska governor has a chance this week to strike back in court at those she viewed as her tormentors.

Palin is set to take on the colossus of the establishment press, The New York Times, in a libel suit she filed over a 2017 editorial that erroneously linked her political activities to the 2011 shooting attack in Tucson, Ariz., that left six people dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) badly wounded.

Within a day, the Times corrected the editorial and noted that no connection was ever established between the rampage and a map that Palin’s political action committee circulated with crosshairs superimposed on the districts of 20 Democrats, including Giffords. The Times also acknowledged it erred by suggesting that the crosshairs appeared over images of the candidates themselves.

But less than two weeks after the errant editorial ran, Palin filed suit against the Times, accusing the news outlet of defaming her.

After years of litigation, as well as delays because of the coronavirus pandemic, a trial in Palin’s suit is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Monday in federal court in New York City.

Some media advocates say the fact that the case is going to trial at all is a sign that almost a half-century of deference to the press in the courts is giving way to a more challenging legal landscape for journalists, media companies and their attorneys.

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