Sarah Palin vs The New York Times

Sarah Palin just filed a lawsuit against The New York Times.  That in itself isn’t much of a story.  Where it gets good is the WHY.  The New York Times ran this editorial in response to the Congressman Steve Scalise shooting:

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. 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 hairsBut in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.

Now, to be sure, this is the EDITED version of the Times editorial.  It’s watered down to appease the anticipated lawsuit I’m sure.

For starters, there was never any connection made between Sarah Palin and the Gifford’s shooting.  Ever.  They say there is.

Secondly, there was never a map targeting “Mrs. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs”.  Ever.  Here it is:

Not exactly what The New York Times is depicting.  I don’t see a single Democrat “in the cross hairs”.  Toss in the fact that Loughner was targeting Giffords over a year BEFORE the poster came out kinda makes The New York Times claim look silly.  And finish with the fact that no clear motive by Loughner was ever established.  So, basically everything about the Loughner story The New York Times got wrong.

So, given there was actually absolutely nothing connecting Palin to the attack, they ran with it anyway, knowing the shooter was a far-left radical, they were spinning it on the right.

Bad plan.

Palin filed suit today for defamation.

I’ll be watching this one for chucks and giggles and will most definitely follow up on this.

Now, the bigger picture to me is the why behind The New York Times running an endorsed editorial with actual fact contradicting the opinion of the editorial that The New York Times had actually printed.  They didn’t have to look far to get the stories behind it, they had printed it.  Now, the damage here is simple to understand.  When national media run something, anything, it takes on a life of it’s own.  It’s linked to, it’s screen capped, it’s quoted, it becomes it’s own “fact”.  Whether right or wrong, it will be used to justify other statements.  It becomes a real thing regardless of the accuracy or intent.  That’s what happened here.  There is now something on the internet that will justify “some” people’s argument that Sarah Palin contributed to Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting.  It was in The New York Times, in black and white no less.

Then, they changed it.  Partially obscuring the fact that the original claims were completely erroneous.  Not somewhat, no debatably, but COMPLETELY unfounded by any evidence whatsoever.  Loughner was targeting Giffords a long time before the crosshairs map was ever printed.  There was nothing to support this editorial.  Ever.  That doesn’t change the fact that the opinion The New York Times wanted relayed was.  Their intent was successful.  That opinion is now supported others as fact.

That, is slander.  To be clear:

a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report:

And the beauty of all this is that Sarah Palin will use those millions to promote the political opinions The New York Times hates so much it was willing to compromise the integrity, and possible sustainability, of the paper itself.

Until society demands ethical reporting, expect this garbage to continue.  And as Thomas Jefferson noted, most would go bankrupt if they did.  The New York Times knows its audience.