Sarah Palin’s attorney Kenneth Turkel told a jury that all the New York Times ‘had to do was dislike her a little less’ as he made closing arguments in the former Alaska governor’s libel suit against the paper.
Palin, who is also celebrating her 58th birthday Friday, is suing the Times over a June 14, 2017, editorial, headlined ‘America’s Lethal Politics,’ that addressed gun control and lamented the deterioration of political discourse. Turkel accused the newspaper of falsely associating her with a mass murder, a link that a Times lawyer said was an honest mistake.
The editorial was written after a shooting at a Virginia baseball field where congressman Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was wounded.
It referred to the January 2011 shooting in an Arizona parking lot by gunman Jared Lee Loughner where six people died and Gabrielle Giffords, then a Democratic congresswoman, was among those wounded. It linked Palin’s political action committee to the Arizona mass shooting.
In his closing argument in federal court in Manhattan, Turkel said the Times and its former editorial page editor, James Bennet, turned a ‘blind eye’ to the facts as it smeared the reputation of Palin, a former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate.
‘The Times resurrected a horrific, false accusation (that) in its simplest form accused Governor Palin of inciting the murder of six people,’ he said. ‘She’s got thick skin. This one crossed the line.’
‘This case is about Governor Palin drawing a line in her life as to when enough is enough,’ he added. ‘All they had to do,’ he says of the New York Times staffers, ‘was care a little bit. All they had to do was dislike her a little less – and we’re not sitting here today.’
Turkel also notes that Palin’s PAC remained in the corrected text. He concluded that the Times initially, for the most part, was accurate and appropriate in putting together the editorial but editor James Bennet came in and basically overturned the research and copy.
The former vice presidential candidate rocked a red handbag to federal court
In response, Times lawyer David Axelrod said the editorial was not meant as a ‘political hit piece’ and that Palin offered no evidence it harmed her reputation, citing her continued public appearances after it was published.
‘It’s about an honest mistake,’ Axelrod said. ‘The criticism was of the New York Times for messing something up. You saw no evidence that anyone criticized Governor Palin for what was written in the editorial. None, zip, zilch.’
He added that had Bennet truly wanted to defame Palin, he would have ‘circled the wagons’ after receiving criticism from conservative columnist Ross Douthat rather than immediately make the correction.
Axelrod clapped back at Turkel for his point about the Times not caring about Turkel, saying Palin’s involvement in the editorial is basically a ‘footnote’ and isn’t about her.
Each attorney was given about two hours to sum up their case. Jury deliberations could begin later Friday in the trial, which is now in its seventh day and is being closely watched by First Amendment advocates.
Sarah Palin, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, listens as New York Times lawyer David Axelrod makes closing arguments
Palin arrived at court Friday as her libel trial against the New York Times continued, again with former New York Rangers star Ron Duguay at her side.
The pair, who say they are ‘just friends’, walked into the Manhattan courthouse side-by-side for the third day in a row as closing statements wrapped up.
Duguay was asked about their relationship Thursday and answered: ‘We’re friends, we’ve gotten closer through this process’.
When asked if he was going to marry Palin, he said: ‘It’s a very young friendship’.
Duguay, 64, and Palin wore matching black coats and the NHL veteran and former broadcaster helped the former vice presidential candidate out of the car that drove them to court.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin arrives at federal court Friday with former NHL hockey player Ron Duguay in New York
Sarah Palin and Ron Duguay hold hands as they arrive
Palin and Ron Duguay reach out to hold hands as they arrive at Federal Court on the seventh day of her trial against the New York Times
The Times piece referred to Palin’s political action committee having circulated a map that put Giffords and 19 other Democrats in the crosshairs.
Palin spent Thursday testifying in a Manhattan courtroom after she began taking questions Wednesday.
The article left her feeling ‘powerless’ and ‘devastated’, the former Alaska governor said on the stand .
Turkel asked how she felt ’emotionally’ after the article came out in 2017 and Palin said she felt ‘mortified’.
Wearing a white blazer, black top, black pants and black stilettos, Palin said: ‘Well, I was devastated to read again false allegations I had anything to do with murder. Murder of innocent people. I felt powerless. I knew I wanted to respond and get the word out against these untruths.’
She spoke with a clear confident voice as she said, ‘Once again I was up against Goliath – I was David’.
Palin said it was hard to ‘figure out what were the stones’ she could throw at the Goliath, meaning the Times.
Palin said the Times was an organization that ‘buys ink by the barrel’ and she ‘had my No.2 pencil on my kitchen table in Alaska.’
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, 57, took the stand to testify against the New York Times Thursday
Sarah Palin arrived at Manhattan court holding hands with Ron Duguay, her ex NHL player beau, for a second time Thursday
The pair, who were rumored to be ‘just friends’, walked into the Manhattan courthouse hand-in-hand where the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, 57, continues her defamation trial against The New York Times
Palin, wearing a white blazer, black jeans and a red handbag, took the stand Thursday in her high stakes libel trial with the publication
Palin is set to be asked about the 2017 editorial page comment which claimed a map from her Political Action Committee incited violence
The former Alaska governor was grilled by an attorney for the Times about her use of ‘provocative’ language during her defamation trial against the publication Thursday.
Times attorney David Axelrod asked Palin about a map put out by her PAC, SarahPac, in 2010 that put crosshairs on the congressional districts for Democrats she wanted to unseat.
This map came out months before the 2011 shooting that killed six and injured Rep Gabby Giffords. It was used in a 2017 NYTimes editorial to link Palin to the shooting. Palin is now suing the publication for defamation over the article.
Palin initially called the gun symbols an ’emoji’ but admitted that a ‘reasonable person’ could interpret them as a rifle sight.
Axelrod asked Palin about a tweet she sent in March 2010 urging her supporters: ‘Don’t retreat, reload’.
He asked: ‘Reload is a word that’s often used in connection with firearms.’
Palin responded: ‘It’s a word I have used all my life.’
Axelrod asked if she put this tweet out even though she was already being criticized for the crosshairs map, and she confirmed her PAC did.
Times attorney David Axelrod asked Palin about a map put out by her PAC, SarahPac, in 2010 that put crosshairs on the congressional districts for Democrats she wanted to unseat
This map by Palin’s PAC came out months before the 2011 shooting that killed six and injured Rep Gabby Giffords. It was used in a 2017 NYTimes editorial to link Palin to the shooting. Palin is now suing the publication for defamation over the article
Axelrod asked Palin about a tweet she sent in March 2010 urging her supporters: ‘Don’t’ retreat, reload’
Before the jury came in, Axelrod referred to the Tweet as he told the judge: ‘The evidence will show that Miss Palin likes to make provocative statements she knows are going to lead to criticism.
The article connected Palin’s map with the shooting of Rep Gabby Giffords (pictured) in 2011 when Jared Lougher killed six people including a federal judge and wounded 13 others
‘The one who makes provocative comments like this don’t retreat, reload in the face of criticism about using violent gun imagery has a hard time proving she has sustained emotional damage when the criticism comes back’.
Considering the issue, Judge Rakoff said that Axelrod had a right to ask on cross examination: ‘What are you talking about?’
Judge Rakoff continued, suggesting Axelrod’s possible line of questioning to Palin: ‘You love this kind of language, you love the heat of political turmoil, you relish your opponents making statements so you can say: ‘Look at what jerks they are?’
Axelrod said that Palin was a ‘public figure’ who ‘uses hyperbole’ and did so as well after 2010.
Under cross examination Palin admitted that she didn’t seek help from a doctor for the emotional distress she claims to have suffered as a result of the Times article.
Asked by Axelrod if she got any kind of counseling, Palin replied: ‘No, I holistically remedy issues that are caused by stress. Running, hot yoga, and other healthy things’.
Palin maintained that the effect of the article on her wellbeing was ‘quite impactful’ but she didn’t speak to a therapist because she has ‘never operated like that’.
She said; ‘I have a women’s prayer group and we prayed about it’.
In her testimony Palin claimed that the Tweet she sent in March 2010 telling her supporters ‘don’t retreat, reload’ was not about guns – but intended as a motivational speech.
She said: ‘My dad was a coach for years. It was a motivational saying, one of a few.
‘It meant don’t back down. My parents were marathon runners and they’d use it (the saying) for themselves
‘Don’t back down, buck up, refuel, get back out there and try harder. We were all obsessed with sports so things like this were commonplace’.
The trial is a test of longstanding legal protections for U.S. media against defamation claims by public figures.
To win, Palin must prove that Bennet and the Times acted with ‘actual malice,’ meaning they knew the editorial was false or had reckless disregard for the truth.
Former editor James Bennet, who edited the paper’s 2017 editorial in question, took the stand at Palin’s defamation trial
James Bennett, the former editor of the editorial pages, admitted that he felt ‘lousy’ over the article which suggested that a map drawn up by Palin’s Political Action Committee that put a crosshair on Giffords’ congressional district incited her shooter Jared Loughner
In Wednesday’s testimony, Bennet maintained that he added the language while under deadline pressure, thinking that the growth of ‘highly charged political rhetoric’ could prompt such incidents.
Bennet denied adding the language in order to suggest Loughner used the cross hairs map.
‘If I thought it caused the violence, I would have used the word ’cause,” Bennet said.
Bennet said he was ‘alarmed’ when conservative Times columnist Ross Douthat emailed less than an hour after the editorial ran that it appeared to incorrectly link Palin to the Giffords shooting. Some readers also complained.
‘We were really, really harshly criticized for muddying the record,’ Bennet said, ‘I thought it was urgent to correct the piece as forthrightly as possible, to acknowledge our mistake. This is basic practice. It’s the right thing to do.’
Lawyers for Palin have tried to show that the correction was too slow, and noted several times that it did not mention her.
Palin’s lawyer Shane Vogt questioned Bennet about why the correction omitted his role in crafting the editorial.
Douthat subsequently testified that he thought his inference of a link between Palin and the Giffords shooting was ‘the natural one,’ and which even some liberals shared.
‘It was something that was being discussed a lot online,’ he said. ‘If there was a correction that needed to be made, the sooner the better.’
Palin has signaled that if she loses at trial, she will on appeal challenge a landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision, New York Times v Sullivan, that established the actual malice standard.
A source close with Sarah Palin (left) said she was not romantically involved with ex-NHL star Rob Duguay (right) and the two are ‘just friends’. Palin, 58, and Duguay, 64, are pictured at Elio’s on the Upper East Side, eating with a group of five or six people just two days after Palin tested positive for COVID-19
Duguay, seen here in 1981, scored 274 goals in the NHL
Palin, a self-proclaimed ‘hockey mom,’ was rumored to be dating Duguay, as sources told Page Six they have been involved since late last year.
The pair was spotted dining outside in late January at Elio’s on the Upper East Side in New York City – two days after Palin knew she had tested positive for COVID ahead of her trial.
That evening, Duguay was notably protective of Palin reportedly bristling at reporters and shielding the former Alaska governor from them. The pair was with a group of five or six people.
‘Hi there,’ a photographer said to Palin’s dinner party at the time. ‘Are any of you guys concerned that she tested positive for COVID? I’m just curious.’
Duguay got up from the table and approached the photographer, according to the New York Daily News, and asked: ‘Are you looking for trouble?’ He then reportedly knocked the camera out of the photographer’s hands.
Duguay is a Canadian former professional hockey player who spent 12 seasons with the NHL from 1977 to 1989. He played for several different teams throughout his career but was drafted by the Rangers and played his first six seasons in New York
He was notorious for his flashy behavior and long hair. Pictured: A portrait of Duguay on the street in New York City circa 1982
Duguay was married to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Kim Alexis in 1993. They divorced in 2016. Pictured: The pair at an event in Las Vegas in 1999
Palin has been divorced from her high-school sweetheart Todd since 2020. The two were married for 32 years and share five children, including Dancing with the Stars contestant Bristol, 31.
Duguay is a Canadian former professional hockey player who spent 12 seasons with the NHL from 1977 to 1989. He played for several different teams throughout his career but was drafted by the Rangers and played his first six seasons in New York, notorious for his flashy behavior and long hair.
Duguay was married to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Kim Alexis in 1993. They divorced in 2016. He had briefly dated Charlie’s Angels starlet Farrah Fawcett in the 1980s – and had claimed that paparazzi photos of the pair in Page Six got him traded from the Rangers.
‘Herb Brooks, the coach, he had this talk with me about ‘staying out of Page Six, being in the sports page,’ and sure enough I was in Page Six once again,’ Duguay has said. ‘It had something to do with me being seen with Farrah… Two months after that, I got traded.’
Famously, Duguay and his Ranger teammates Phil Esposito, Ron Greschner, Anders Hedberg and Don Maloney danced and skated in an ad for Sasson Jeans in the 1980s.
He was also a regular on the nightclub scene with some of the most celebrated partiers of the era.
Back in 2019, Duguay spoke to the Post about ending up in KISS lead singer Gene Simmons’ bed with Cher after a night at Studio 54 with the likes of Liza Minelli.
The legendary singer and actress took Duguay back to a house, where he ‘looked around at the gold records on the wall of the house, but he noticed they weren’t Cher’s records, but rather those of KISS. Cher then told Duguay they were at Simmons’ house.’
‘So I’m in Gene Simmons’ townhouse, not sure why I’m there. Next thing I know, she told me, ”We’re not doing anything tonight,”’ Duguay added. ‘Next thing you know, we’re sitting on his bed. And that’s where the story stops.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk