by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
After the 2008 election and “The Masked Singer” and all the rest of it — finally, here is a contest Sarah Palin deserves to win.
The former Alaska governor, vice-presidential candidate, and reality-television clown has sued the New York Times for libel, and she deserves to prevail. The Times editorial page libeled her, straight up, and the court should find in her favor.
It does not matter what you think of Palin, or what you think of the New York Times. I have had plenty of occasion to criticize both of them over the years and a few opportunities to praise each of them, too. Palin vs. the New York Times is perfect culture-war fodder, but this isn’t a culture-war question. This is first a legal question, one in which Palin has the better case, and then a broader question of how our news media go about their business — and here the New York Times has offered a master class in what not to do.
At issue is a Times editorial in which the paper blamed the Palin campaign’s political rhetoric for the shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. “The link to political incitement was clear,” the Times claimed. This claim was false — a fact conceded even by the Times itself. In truth, there was no link between the Palin campaign’s advertising and the Giffords shooting, much less a clear one. Even if we were to concede that Palin’s advertisements constituted incitement — which they most certainly did not, being utterly ordinary political material — nobody has shown any link between that material and the shooting.
And there is a good reason for that: There isn’t one. …
… The Times should not bother writing another defense of its actions and should instead write an apology and a check.