Sarah Palin’s long-anticipated defamation trial against the New York Times has been postponed after the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate contracted COVID-19, according to multiple reporters. “She is, of course, unvaccinated,” Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said of Palin.
“She wants to be here for jury selection, she wants to testify live” Palin’s lawyer Kenneth Turkel reportedly told the judge before adding that she was “awaiting the result of another test before deciding how long they will need to delay.
Later that morning, Palin’s legal team said she tested positive three times in a row, spelling a delay in the trial until Feb. 3, Law And Crime reported.
Palin’s lawsuit against the Times has been nearly half a decade in the making. On June 15, 2017, the newspaper ran an editorial titled “America’s Lethal Politics” trying to connect overheated political rhetoric to real-world violence. The op-ed, written by former editor James Bennet, tied mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner’s shootings to a map disseminated by Palin’s political action committee, which had crosshairs over certain electoral districts. One of those districts belonged to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat whom Loughner shot.
There was no evidence that Loughner knew about the Palin ad, and the Times ran a correction noting that. That did not prevent Palin from suing later that year.
In her lawsuit, Palin argues that this showed that Bennet had an agenda and ignored evidence to the contrary in order to defame her.
Experts fear Palin’s case may have broad repercussions for freedom of the press, As noted by Law and Crime, under longstanding First Amendment precedent, public figures like Palin must prove “actual malice” before suing the press, and one manner of doing so would be by demonstrating “reckless disregard for the truth.” Few defamation cases filed by public figures meet this high bar, making Palin’s trial unusual.
NOW: Sarah Palin tested positive for COVID-19, according to judge opening trial in her @nytimes defamation case today.
"Ms. Palin had tested positive for conoronavirus. She is of course unvaccinated."
Could delay proceedings…judge lays out the options
— Frank G. Runyeon (@frankrunyeon) January 24, 2022
I’m covering the Sarah Palin/New York Times trial set to start today in the SDNY. Judge Rakoff says he learned last night that Palin has tested positive for COVID. “She is, of course, unvaccinated,” the judge notes.
— Jane Wester (@janewester) January 24, 2022