By Riham Alkousaa
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has sued the New York Times for defamation because of an editorial that linked her rhetoric to a 2011 shooting that killed six people and seriously wounded a U.S. congresswoman.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday said the Times deliberately “acted with actual malice” toward Palin and that the editorial was “false and defamatory.” It claims the Times violated its policies and procedures.
Palin, the former Alaska governor was Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in an unsuccessful 2008 campaign, is seeking in excess of $75,000 for compensatory, special and punitive damages.
On June 14 the Times published an editorial commenting on the mass shooting at a Virginia baseball field that injured four people, including Republican Representative Steve Scalise, saying the attack was probably evidence of how vicious American politics has become.
The editorial board then recalled a shooting in Arizona in 2011 that targeted U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people.
“Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs,” the editorial said.
The newspaper issued a correction saying the editorial “incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric” and the Giffords shooting. It also corrected its description of the map, saying it depicted electoral districts, not Giffords and individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath cross hairs.
The lawsuit called the corrections insufficient and said Palin wanted the Times to remove the article from the newspaper’s website, where it still appears with the amended correction.
“We will defend against any claim vigorously,” the Times said in a statement on Wednesday.
Theodore Boutrous, a Los Angeles lawyer and constitutional law expert, said Palin was unlikely to succeed because she is a public figure.
“The First Amendment protects newspapers and others in terms of speaking out and writing and expressing opinions on important and public issues and that’s what The New York Times was doing,” Boutrous said.
(Reporting By Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bill Trott)