There are few constants in the world, but Sarah Palin’s almost adept level of mind-boggling stupidity is one of them.
In 2011, Palin’s super PAC sent out a disturbing image: a map telling her violent and horrible supporters the names of some House Democrats who voted for the Affordable Care Act with the “all caps” message “IT’S TIME TO TAKE A STAND.” The location of each was marked with crosshairs.
One of the names on the list was Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who found herself in someone else’s crosshairs — those of Jared Loughner, an extremely mentally-ill man who had for years hated Giffords because he didn’t like her answer when he asked her a question at a town hall.
At the time, an opinion article in the New York Times stated that this was evidence of a clear link between right-wing rhetoric and political violence. Unfortunately, there was no clear evidence that Loughner had seen the image, so the Times issued a correction to that effect — but the violent message of the image remained.
In what appears to be an attempt to aid Donald Trump in his war against the New York Times and other outlets that he views as unfriendly to him because they print facts he doesn’t like, Palin recently filed a lawsuit against the Times alleging that “speculative and unsubstantiated rumors” hurt her personally and professionally.
“Don’t retreat, Instead RELOAD,” Palin tweeted to accompany the image — message that seems to have been intended to incite violence.
Here is the image:
Sarah Palin may not have “incited” the shooting of Gabby Giffords, but she certainly did put her area in crosshairs in 2011. pic.twitter.com/GGP5V2Qyga
— Out The Window (@frreigns) June 28, 2017
After the shooting, Palin hastily removed the image from the internet — an interesting move for someone who says her post was not violent in the least.
“Among other things it led to the end of her position as a Fox News political commentator, influenced her decision not to run for President of the United States, and tainted her personal and professional image,” the complaint says. “It took Mrs. Palin years to overcome the detrimental impacts of the false speculation that she caused Loughner to commit murder.”
This is a huge jump from Palin’s own statement when she was fired from Fox News years later. At the time, the conservative mouthpiece said she was sh*tcanned because she “called somebody out,” but was clear that she still had a “great relationship with the network,” on which she has appeared numerous times since.
Though 2015 Palin and 2017 Palin disagree about the reason for her firing, 2017 Palin seems to have decided to allege that the Times demonstrated a “purposeful avoidance of the truth — marked by a deliberate decision not to acknowledge facts confirming the falsity of its charges.”
In reality, the correction, which can still be found on the Times’ website and Twitter, was issued quickly to make it clear that a “clear link” had not been officially established because Loughner could not be shown to have seen the violent ad.
The fact that such a correction was issued makes it very difficult for Palin, as U.S. law requires her (as both a celebrity and a former government official) to demonstrate that the remarks hurt her reputation (which continued to soar with the Stupid Part of America) was harmed by the statement and that it was made with “actual malice” — in other words, the Times would have had to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the statement was false (we still don’t know for sure one way or the other, though most reasonable people would, at minimum, find the timing and weapon used in the attack coupled with the violent nature of the ad interesting) and publish it anyway.
Shortly after news of Palin’s lawsuit broke, Donald Trump attacked the Times for publishing “false story after false story” about him — almost right on cue.
The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don’t even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2017
This is just one of what we can assume will be many attacks on news organizations, with the Right attempting to discredit, well, pretty much everyone but Fox News and Breitbart.
Sean Hannity, for example, says he “may follow with a few lawsuits” of his own:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) June 28, 2017
Palin is seeking $75,000 in damages — a speciously low number for someone who expects her lawsuit to be taken seriously. In fact, given the high cost of litigation, it could be said that she is more fishing for a “nuisance settlement” (it may be cheaper to settle than to fight Palin in court) than anything else.
If one thing is for certain, we can expect this lawsuit to be mentioned heavily on right-wing outlets for quite some time — after all, it’s just one more weapon in their battle against anyone who chooses to tell the truth about Trump.
Featured image via screengrab