top of page

Persuasion in the news: Palin suit vs. NY Times is over (for now)

Judge plans to dismiss Governor Palin's libel case v NY Times because she did not persuade the court (as I suspected)

I was not surprised to read yesterday that Jed S. Rakoff, the judge in Sarah Palin’s defamation case against the New York Times, has decided to dismiss her case. “This is an example of very unfortunate editorializing on the part of The Times,” said the judge. But, he added, “that’s not the issue before this court.” In his lengthy comments explaining his decision, Rakoff said that “he did not believe that Ms. Palin’s lawyers had produced enough evidence to prove their defamation claims.” The law sets a very high standard for actual malice, he further noted, “and in this case the court finds that standard has not been met.” In other words, the Palin team did not persuade the court that the Times was guilty of libel.

I wrote about the case on Sunday and said the following:

Unfortunately for Palin, at least some observers seem to think she did not present a persuasive case that she was damaged. She was not a “normal” grandmother at the time, given her status as a celebrity, and there is no sign that the editorial damaged her reputation with her fans or in any way diminished her lucrative speaking career.

I also noted that:

Both sides, then, are in some ways trying to walk away from their respective histories in order to persuade the jury, which is what lends this trial an unusual and intriguing twist.

Apparently, the judge in the case felt even more strongly than I did that Ms. Palin’s team did not persuade. Interestingly, Rakoff plans to let the jury continue deliberating and to reach a verdict, but his dismissal diminishes the odds that Ms. Palin will get a second chance to persuade an appeals court that she was indeed harmed by the Times.

If Judge Rakoff goes ahead with his dismissal, it will be interesting to see if, and how, Ms. Palin attempts to persuade the general public that the Times was guilty, despite whatever may have happened in a Manhattan courtroom.

bottom of page