Sarah Palin threatens to sue The New York Times for retracted accusation that she inspired Gabby Giffords shooting

New York Times, Palin trade jabs over who's to blame for political violence

Published June 16, 2017 6:11PM (EDT)

Sarah Palin   (Jeffrey Malet /
Sarah Palin (Jeffrey Malet /

The same day that the New York Times published a news story that attempted to link Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to the political violence he has explicitly and repeatedly denounced, the paper also published an editorial that falsely claimed the 2011 shooting of then-representative Gabby Giffords was inspired by a political ad put out by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

While the shooting and Palin's ad took place sometime around each other, there has never been any evidence that Giffords' attacker, Jared Loughner, was ever aware of Palin's placement of a crosshairs on Giffords' congressional district.

Moreover, Loughner's obsession with the Arizona congresswoman appears to have begun in 2007, a year before Palin was tapped to become the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee. Not a right-wing radical by any stretch of the imagination, Loughner's crime appears to have been motivated by untreated paranoid schizophrenia.

Seemingly unaware of these facts, some of which were previously uncovered by the Times itself, the paper's editorial board published an essay this week claiming that in the case of Giffords and Palin, "the link to political incitement was clear."

The Times repeated the faulty assertion in the next paragraph, responding to present-day attempts on the part of conservatives to imply that political violence is an exclusively left-wing problem:

Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

The paper soon found itself under a fusillade of criticism for its error as objectors on both the right and left began calling for a correction.

The Times soon corrected its error:

Palin decided to get in on the criticism as well, claiming on Twitter that she was talking with her lawyers about suing the Times:

Like President Donald Trump, however, Palin has a habit of threatening to sue people and then never bothering to follow through. Over the years, she's claimed she'd sue rapper Azealia Banks, her unofficial biographer Joe McGinniss, and various news media outlets.

By Matthew Sheffield

Matthew Sheffield is a national correspondent for The Young Turks. He is also the host of the podcast "Theory of Change." You can follow him on Twitter.

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Gabby Giffords Gabrielle Giffords Jared Loughner Journalism Media Criticism New York Times Sarah Palin