Palin has claimed 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 suggestion the ad prompted the attack by shooter Jared Lee Loughner.
Palin's legal team will have to prove real 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 changed the editorial and published a set of corrections, continuing "no connection to the shooting was ever established."
Rakoff had initially dismissed Palin's lawsuit for a "cognizable lack of actual malice," according to THR, though the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Rakoff and the complaint was rekindled.
Rakoff then ruled, THE reported, "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."
According to the report, Rakoff has set January 24 for jury selection in a federal courthouse in Manhattan, blocking off an estimated two weeks for the trial.
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.
After conducting an unusual evidentiary hearing soon after Palin filed the lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff quickly dismissed her complaint about a cognizable lack of actual malice. "Nowhere is political journalism so free, so robust, or perhaps so rowdy as in the United States," wrote the judge in the order. "In the exercise of that freedom, mistakes will be made, some of which will be hurtful to others."
At trial, there will likely be attention on newsroom politics, particularly how the op/ed section at the New York Times operates. For example, before this anti-gun editorial was published, fellow Times opinion writer Ross Douthat showed concern to Bennet regarding his conclusion.
There may also be some attention on Palin's celebrity since being Alaska governor and John McCain's ticketmate. In a motion brought on Monday, Palin's attorneys asked Rakoff to bar the New York Times from using, disclosing, discussing, or describing any of its trial exhibits without court approval. Those exhibits contain everything from Palin's tweets to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to Palin shown as a bear on the competition show Masked Singer.