Jan 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin. Photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, delaying the start of her defamation trial against the New York Times.

Why it matters: The trial will be closely watched, as it's a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.

The big picture: U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who is presiding over the trial that had been set to begin on Monday in a Manhattan courtroom, announced that Palin had tested positive for the virus, Reuters reported.

  • Rakoff noted that Palin's positive test had come from an at-home COVID-19 test, which is considered less reliable than the tests administered at the Manhattan courthouse.
  • "She is of course unvaccinated," Rakoff added, per Reuters.
  • Later in the morning after Palin tested positive again, Rakoff decided to delay the start of the jury selection and adjourn the trial until Feb. 3, the Washington Post reported.

What they're saying: “She wants to be here for jury selection, she wants to testify live,” Kenneth Turkel, Palin's lawyer, told the judge Monday, the New York Times reported.

State of play: Palin has spent four years battling the Times over a corrected editorial.

  • The editorial in question — "America’s Lethal Politics," published after the shooting of Republican House leader Steve Scalise — originally linked Palin's PAC to the earlier shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords.
  • To win the trial, Palin must argue successfully that there was "actual malice" in the newspaper's editorial writing process, a standard set in the landmark decision New York Times v. Sullivan.
  • Palin has signaled she'll challenge Sullivan on appeal if she loses at trial.

Go deeper: Sarah Palin defamation suit against New York Times takes trial Monday

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