Hot Air notes that Sarah Palin’s lawyers had the New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet on the stand Wednesday. Bennet revealed how the editorial that defamed Palin came to be written. He also attempted to verbally dance around the notion that the editorial was written in full knowledge that Palin was not responsible for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in 2011.

The Palin link was added in the editing process

The first draft of the editorial was written by a New York Times editorial writer named Elizabeth Williamson.

However, the offending part that linked Palin to the shooting was added by Bennet during the editing process before being printed in the Times.

Editor pleads ignorance

As many predicted, Bennet pleaded ignorance of Times reporting that had disproved the link between Palin and the shooting. He did not know at the time of the editing whether or not Jared Loughner had seen the map that had placed Giffords’ district in the crosshairs. Bennet did not see the map. Incredibly, he claimed that he had not meant to link Palin to the shooting. Yet the editorial stated that “the link to political incitement was clear” about the map. Bennet was denying that he was suggesting what the words in the editorial clearly said.

He was claiming that he was not only ignorant of the facts surrounding the case but of the English language.

Did direct political bias come into play?

It turns out that Bennet’s brother is Colorado Senator Michael Bennet whose opponent Palin endorsed. One of Palin’s lawyers asked whether personal political bias came into play.

Bennet denied this, stating ignorance of the endorsement when he edited the editorial.

The bottom line

Bennet did the best he could, given the circumstances. He had to plead ignorance of the New York Time’s reporting on the alleged connection between Palin and the Giffords Shooting. However, he went further by claiming that he had not meant to establish such a connection when he clearly did.

No one can predict what a judge will do given any set of facts. However, given what was revealed in open court, a reasonable person would have a hard time ascribing any credibility to Bennet’s testimony. If the judge rules that Bennet was likely being less that truthful on the stand, he could rule that the law suit could proceed or even offer a summary judgment in favor of Palin. That point would be a pretty good occasion for the New York Times to try to settle with Palin. Then the so-called newspaper of record is going to have to do a little house cleaning.