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23 New York Times journalists’ work sought in Palin suit

Sarah Palin walks on the sideline before an

Sarah Palin walks on the sideline before an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams in Seattle on Dec. 15, 2016. Credit: AP/Scott Eklund, File

Sarah Palin’s lawyers intend to issue wide-ranging subpoenas for any communications back to 2011 from 23 New York Times reporters and editors that reflect “negative feelings” toward her, the paper said in a Manhattan federal court filing Wednesday urging dismissal of her libel suit.

Times lawyers told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff that the extensive demands in Palin’s suit over a June editorial claiming she incited the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) illustrate the need to “ensure that protected expression is not penalized . . . by the burdens of litigation.”

Palin has provided notice of plans to seek information ranging from texts and tweets to emails on work or personal devices from Times columnists Charles Blow, Bret Stephens and Ross Douthat, former public editor Liz Spayd, editorial page editor James Bennet and others, the paper said.

The editorial, in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), described a map circulated by Palin’s political action committee targeting Giffords’ congressional district with crosshairs as “political incitement” for shooter Jared Loughner. There has never been evidence that Loughner saw the map, and the Times ran a correction.

Lawyers for the paper say it was an “honest mistake.” They have moved to dismiss because there’s no evidence the Times acted with malice, the editorial named Palin’s committee and not her personally, and it’s impossible to prove for sure that Loughner wasn’t motivated by the map.

Palin’s lawyers say the Times’ own stories show it was aware there was no link between the ad and Giffords’ shooting, which is sufficient evidence of recklessness for the case to go forward, the paper has admitted its claim was an error, and a jury should decide if it defamed Palin personally.

A Times lawyer declined to comment, and Palin’s lawyers didn’t return a call. Rakoff has scheduled oral arguments on whether to allow the case to proceed for July 31.

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