UPDATE 1-Palin Positive COVID Test Casts Doubt over Start of NY Times Trial

Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, has tested positive for the coronavirus, as she had been set to go to trial against The New York Times, which she accused of defamation.

Palin’s positive test was announced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan, who is presiding over the case. Rakoff said “she is of course unvaccinated,” referring to Palin.

Rakoff said Palin’s positive test came from an at-home test whose reliability was lower than tests administered at the courthouse and required for the trial.

He said Palin will be retested on Monday morning, with the results determining whether the trial can proceed the same day or will be delayed.

Palin, 57, has accused the Times and its former editorial page editor James Bennet of damaging her reputation in a June 14, 2017, editorial linking her to a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that killed six people and wounded U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords.

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Sarah Palin Defamation Lawsuit Against NY Times Going to Trial

After a four-year wait, Sarah Palin’s libel case against The New York Times will move forward with jury selection scheduled to begin Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff has announced that date in a federal courthouse in Manhattan, blocking off an estimated two weeks for the trial.

“This trial is not only entertaining, it will address an important principle: you don’t get to make up nasty stuff about somebody you don’t like and print it anyway,” the New York Post’s Kyle Smith wrote in an editorial after the announcement the case will go to trial.

“Reminding us that there is punishment in store for those who do this could move us a half-a-baby-step closer to restoring civility in the discourse.”

Palin has alleged that the Times’ 2017 editorial linking one of her political action committee ads to the 2011 mass shooting that wounded then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., “violated the law and its own policies” in suggesting the ad incited the attack by shooter Jared Lee Loughner.

Palin’s legal team will have to prove actual malice by editorial author James Bennet, who wrote: “Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”

Hours after the editorial ran, the Times revised the editorial and published a series of corrections, adding “no connection to the shooting was ever established.”

Rakoff had initially dismissed Palin’s lawsuit for a “cognizable lack of actual malice,” but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Rakoff and the complaint was revived.

Rakoff then ruled, “the evidence shows Bennet came up with an angle for the editorial, ignored the articles brought to his attention that were inconsistent with his angle … and ultimately made the point he set out to make in reckless disregard of the truth.”

Palin is represented by Shane Vogt at Bajo Cuva Cohen Turkel, while The New York Times’ case is in the hands of David A. Schulz at Ballard Spahr.

“They tried to make a banquet out of a crumb: they discovered Palin’s PAC had put out a map about defeating Obamacare that was illustrated with crosshairs to identify congressional districts as potential pickups for the GOP,” Smith wrote. “‘Target,’ ‘campaign,’ ‘crosshairs’ and the like are long-standing military metaphors used in election battles. (Battles. There’s another one.)

“Nobody goes, ‘Aaaaaugh, you’re trying to get me killed!’ when a press release mentions that this or that incumbent is being ‘targeted.'”

Smith noted Palin’s map was targeting congressional districts by the GOP to defeat Obamacare.

“Did Giffords’ shooter ever see this map? No, not that we know of,” Smith wrote. “Moreover, he had no clear political views. Instead, he simply harbored an obsessive hate for Giffords specifically, which was documented back to three years before the map’s existence. Three days after the shooting, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote, ‘The charge that Palin’s map had anything to do with the shooting is bogus.'”

A Times spokesman told CNN’s Oliver Darcy he hopes the case will “reaffirm a foundational principle of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish unintentional errors by news organizations.”

“We published an editorial about an important topic that contained an inaccuracy,” the paper’s spokesman said. “We set the record straight with a correction.

“We are deeply committed to fairness and accuracy in our journalism, and when we fall short, we correct our errors publicly, as we did in this case.”

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote Friday the case will help “demarcate” a line between “really bad journalism” and libel.

“At issue is the elasticity of the protections that allow news organizations to present tough coverage of public figures,” Wemple wrote. “Or, to put things a bit more sharply, the case will help demarcate the line between really bad journalism and libelous journalism.”

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WH Press Secretary Psaki: No Apology for Biden Calling Rittenhouse ‘White Supremacist’

When asked by a reporter Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden would not be apologizing for characterizing Kyle Rittenhouse as a “white supremacist.”

“This is about a campaign video released last year that used President Trump’s own words during a debate as he refused to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and [former] President [Donald] Trump, as we know from history, and as many of you covered, didn’t just refuse to condemn militia groups on the debate stage, he encouraged them throughout his presidency,” she said during the press briefing Tuesday.

“So, you know, what we’ve seen are the tragic consequences of that – when people think it’s OK to take the law into their own hands instead of allowing law enforcement to do its job,” she said. “And the president believes in condemning hatred, division, and violence. That’s exactly what was done in that video.”

Rittenhouse was acquitted for killing two rioters and injuring a third in self-defense during the Kenosha, Wisconsin, riots in August 2020.

During the 2020 campaign, Biden used the video to attack Trump for not condemning white supremacists, the main reason Biden said he entered the race for and alleging Rittenhouse was part of a “militia” that went across state lines to be part of the riots.

He later doubled down on that characterization of Rittenhouse, although admitting he was not “exactly sure what” Rittenhouse did.

“I don’t know enough to know whether that 17-year-old kid, exactly what he did,” Fox News reported Biden said in August 2020. “Allegedly he’s part of a militia coming out in the state of Illinois. Have you ever heard the President (Trump) say one negative thing about white supremacists? Have you ever heard it?”

Biden’s claims were contradicted by evidence and testimony at the trial where a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges last week.

At first, Biden told reporters America should “respect” the verdict, but later walked that back in a statement.

“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken,” his statement Nov. 19 said. “I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”

Since the verdict, several top Democrats have publicly opposed the verdict, citing “facts” that were disproven at the trial, claiming Rittenhouse “crossed state lines” from Illinois to Chicago with his weapon when, according to the testimony and evidence during the trial, the gun was kept in Wisconsin.

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