Sarah Palin was for years the basket of the hosts of the American press. She was little known outside of Alaska, the state of which she was governor, until she became vice president candidate for the Republican Party in the 2008 elections. It was a risky election of the presidential candidate John McCain that revolutionized that campaign, the one that led to Barack Obama to the White House.
The media sharpened its fang on Palin, a conservative, irreverent and controversial voice. They criticized his positions on the access to guns, his sympathy with the oil industry and his opposition to social changes such as the legalization of same-sex marriage. She was ridiculed to the extreme, such as in the legendary Tina Fey impersonations on the satirical show ‘Saturday Night Life’.
But in Republican America, on the wave of anti-government and opposition to institutions that Donald Trump rode in 2016, Palin gained a lot of popularity. It was flag bearer of the ‘Tea Party’ and he retained the favor of the conservative electorate, despite the fact that the derision of the leftist sectors did not stop. Now Palin is seeking revenge against the ‘progressive’ press and has brought her main representative, ‘The New York Times’, to court. This week the start of a trial on a defamation lawsuit filed against the newspaper in 2017 was scheduled. The reason was that at the opinion section of the newspaper he got too carried away with his usual animosity with Palin. an editorial rrevealed a shooting in Arizona in 2011 – six people died and among the injured was the then Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – with Palin’s political rhetoric. More than an exaggeration, it was clearly a lie. ‘The New York Times’ acknowledged the error and corrected the editorial.
But that was not enough for Palin, who brought the newspaper before the Justice. Contrary to what usually happens, and after a procedural journey of four years, the lawsuit for libel has ended up in court. The judgment can have a great impact: for the ‘Times’ and for the protections of the press in general. First of all, will serve to throw shit at the fan about the newspaper coverage to Palin. Starting with the then head of Opinion, James Bennet, who, according to Palin’s lawyers, had an unbearable dislike for the Republican.
The trial could question the limits of defamation in the press. The first amendment to the Constitution, the one that establishes freedom of expression, gives very broad protections. The case law so far imposes that there must be “malice” on the part of the newspaper and most lawsuits do not survive. Palin’s chances of winning the trial are slim. But in America’s polarized and toxic political and judicial climate. anything can happen. If she loses, Palin will appeal and several Supreme Court justices have shown signs of wanting to lower the protection enjoyed by the press. for now, the trial has had to be delayed a few days. Palin, who has shown her opposition to restrictions during the pandemic, tested positive yesterday. “Of course, she is not vaccinated,” protested the judge in the case, Jed Rakoff. But the existence of defamation will not depend on him, but of a jury of twelve citizens. Palin asked to delay the trial because she wants to convince them in person.