Palin tests positive for Covid ahead of New York Times trial

“Since she has apparently tested positive three times, I’m going to assume that she’s positive,” Rakoff said when told of Palin’s misadventure.

Palin filed suit against the Times over a 2017 editorial that falsely tied her political activities to the 2011 shooting that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six people.

The newspaper corrected the editorial to say that no such connection was ever established, and the Times acknowledged it mischaracterized a map put out by Palin’s political action committee that had crosshairs placed over the districts of 20 Democrats, including Giffords’.

Palin sued less than two weeks after the editorial was first published, through the case has stretched on for years due to pandemic-related delays and legal wrangling. The case is being closely watched by media advocates for its potential ramifications on the First Amendment and the legal protections extended to journalists and others.

During Monday’s hearing, the judge made rulings on a series of motions about which potential witnesses will be allowed to testify, what evidence can be shown to the jury and what lines of questioning the two sides are allowed to pursue. He shot down an expert witness proposed by Palin’s team and ruled out mention of former New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet’s ouster from the paper in 2020, among other determinations.

Rakoff, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, previously dismissed Palin’s lawsuit in 2017 but was overturned by an appellate court panel two years later.

Rakoff said Monday he believes “chances are reasonably good” that the trial, which is being held in federal court in New York City, will be able to resume on Feb. 3. Palin had the option to waive her right to appear in trial so that it could proceed with her participating remotely, but her attorney said the former governor wished to observe jury selection and testify in person — necessitating a rescheduling.

After a pause in the hearing while they awaited word on Palin’s test results, Rakoff said that courthouse rules would allow her to return even if she is still testing positive for Covid, provided that she is asymptomatic. But if she does show symptoms, she can be looked at the day before the Feb. 3 court date by a doctor who provides services on behalf of the court.


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