Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tells NYC jury of now-quiet life as single mom at libel trial against New York Times
NEW YORK — GOP firebrand and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin described herself to a Manhattan jury on Wednesday as a single mom leading a quiet life far from the national stage in a snowy mountain town in the Last Frontier.
“Holding down the fort in Wasilla, in Alaska — it’s not supereasy conditions living up there, but I’m used to it, and I don’t complain about it,” Palin testified at her civil defamation trial against The New York Times.
“Single mom now, and my youngest child, he has special needs, so my life revolves around him — his name is Trig — and his schooling and his therapies,” she said.
“And my dad is there. I help take care of my dad. He’s elderly.”
Palin is suing the Times over an editorial she says libeled her by linking an incendiary graphic distributed by her political action committee to the murderous actions of a mass shooter.
Testifying for less than 15 minutes on the trial’s fifth day, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska’s first female governor and its youngest, ran jurors through her infamous political résumé. Palin is expected to continue testifying on Thursday.
After a stint on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as mayor, Palin said she ran for governor of Alaska to tackle “crony capitalism” and corruption in the oil industry.
“Did your life change when you became a candidate for the vice presidency?” Ken Turkel asked Palin.
“I don’t think they were prepared for me, necessarily, because I was new to the national stage,” Palin said. “But, it was an amazing experience to get to travel around the country and meet so many amazing people and just see the beauty of America and offer myself up in the name of public service at that level.”
The trial adjourned for the day soon after Palin began her testimony. She is expected to return to the witness stand Thursday.
Palin must prove the Times and its former opinion editor James Bennet acted with “actual malice” to win the case that First Amendment experts worry could upend decades of legal precedent and press freedoms.
Published in the aftermath of a mass shooting at congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, the editorial ran in the Times’ print edition under the headline “America’s Lethal Politics” on June 14, 2017.
The editorial noted that the baseball field shooter, James Hodgkinson, was a Bernie Sanders supporter who bitterly opposed President Donald Trump, and argued that heated political rhetoric led to real-world bloodshed.
It also said Palin’s PAC contributed to an atmosphere of heated political rhetoric that led to a 2011 shooting in Arizona in which Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and grievously wounded former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz.
Palin’s SarahPAC did so, the editorial suggested, via a graphic that the editorial wrongly said put crosshairs over depictions of the several Democratic members of Congress.
But in reality, the graphic issued by SarahPAC put the targets over congressional districts on a U.S. map. And there was never evidence that Loughner, who was profoundly mentally ill, had ever seen it.
The Times contends the mistake was honest and corrected without delay. Bennet, who no longer works for the paper, testified to inputting the inaccuracies during a heavy-handed edit.
“This is my fault,” he said.