New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet will testify at a court hearing this month in Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the paper, a spokesperson for the newspaper said Thursday.
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the writer of a June 14 editorial to testify at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 16. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff is considering the Times’ request to dismiss the lawsuit, The Associated Press reported.
A Times spokesperson told HuffPost the paper “will be providing the testimony that the judge has ordered.”
Times editorials reflect the opinions of the publication’s editorial page, and are typically attributed to the “The Editorial Board” rather than carrying an individual writer’s byline. The Times on Thursday acknowledged that Bennet, who oversees the section, authored the editorial in question.
Palin, a former Alaska governor, Republican vice presidential nominee and Fox News personality, sued the Times in June after an editorial about the Virginia mass shooting that wounded Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) linked Palin to the 2011 attack that disabled then-Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D).
The Times editorial asserted that before the Arizona shooting, Palin’s “political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”
The map actually showed electoral districts under cross hairs, not specific Democratic politicians.
The Times corrected the editorial on June 15 and issued an apology on Twitter.
Still, Palin filed a lawsuit later that month, claiming the Times published information it “knew to be false.”
The Times promised to “defend against any claim vigorously.”
Palin’s attorneys filed papers last month seeking the correspondence of more than 20 Times journalists.
Palin, a public figure, has to prove the Times acted with malice to defame her ― a legal threshold much higher than simply a good-faith mistake.
Palin is being represented by Tampa, Florida-based attorneys Kenneth Turkel and Shane Vogt, members of wrestler Hulk Hogan’s legal team in his successful invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media.
This article has been updated to note that the Times identified Bennet as the author of the editorial.