NY Times explanation for connecting Palin to Scalise shooting; 'an honest mistake'

A lawyer for the New York Times says that the defamation lawsuit by Sarah Palin against the newspaper should not go forward because the Times made "an honest mistake" in smearing the former vice president by trying to connect her to the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise.

Has the word "honest" ever appeared in the same sentence as "The New York Times"?

NY Post:

“There was an honest mistake in posting the editorial,” lawyer David Schultz told Manhattan federal Judge Jed Rakoff.

Last week, Palin sued the Times over a June 14th editorial that stated there was a “direct” link between one of Palin’s PAC ads and the shooting by Jared Lee Loughner.

But there’s no evidence he ever saw the ad, which placed Gifford’s district in stylized crosshairs. The Times issued a correction.

On Friday, Palin’s lawyers argued that the Times knew the story was false.

“It was literally acknowledged the same day in another story in their paper,” said Kenneth Turkel.

It appears to a non-legal person like me that Palin has the paper dead to rights - and the Times knows it. But libel laws are tricky - especially when a high profile public figure seeks to use them to gain satisfaction against a media outlet. The burden of proof is all on the public figure who must conclusively show that the media organization published a story with "malice aforethought." This is a very high standard to meet, almost demanding some kind of paper trail.

But if there was another story in the paper that day debunking the editorial's claim of a connection between Palin and the Scalise shooting, it sounds pretty damning. 

The case will probably not go to trial unless Palin insists on getting satisfaction in open court. If that's the case, pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show. That trial would be one for the ages.

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