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New York Times’ lawyer argues Sarah Palin can’t establish malice in defamation suit over editorial

Kenneth Turkel, one of the three lawyers in court representing Palin, said even if there were not actual malice, The Times should have known their editorial was wrong.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can’t prove The New York Times was out to smear her in publishing an erroneous editorial, lawyers for the media company argued Friday.

But Palin’s lawyers and those representing the newspaper appeared at Manhattan Federal Court for a hearing in her defamation suit against the media giant.

Palin was not present for the hearing.

Palin, who was Sen. John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election, filed a civil suit against The Times on June 27 over a recent editorial that linked her political action committee’s ads to a mass shooting.

The June 14 editorial connected advertisements from Palin’s PAC to the 2011 shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Tucson, her civil complaint says.

The editorial wrongly alleged her PAC’s advertisements placed “Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs,” according to the court papers filed by Palin.

The editorial also maintained Palin’s PAC sparked "political incitement" prior to Jared Loughner’s sick attack, which killed six and injured 13, her lawsuit contends.

Shortly after the editorial was published, the newspaper released a correction clarifying that these "cross hairs" alluded to electoral districts — not individual politicians.

David Schulz, who is representing the Gray Lady, told Manhattan Federal Judge Jed Rakoff her complaint doesn’t plausibly establish “actual malice.”

“There was an honest mistake in posting the editorial,” argued Schulz, who will be filing papers to push for dismissal of Palin’s complaint. “It was corrected in 12 to 13 hours.”

Kenneth Turkel, one of the three lawyers in court representing Palin, said even if there were not actual malice, The Times should have known their editorial was wrong.

Turkel contended this alleged recklnessness was enough to bring the case.

Rakoff has ordered both sides to argue over the case’s dismissal on July 31. If it is not dismissed, the trial date is Dec. 11, Rakoff decided.

The disputed opinion piece also compared Jared Loughner’s rampage to the June 14 shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and three other victims during a GOP baseball practice outside of Washington.

Palin is pushing for damages because the Times stated "to millions of people that she, a devoted wife, mother and grandmother, who committed a substantial portion of her adult life to public service, is part of a pattern of ‘lethal’ politics," her lawyers claim.