Sarah Palin, following the “common sense suggestion” of a particular journalist, has decided to file suit against the New York Times for defamation. At issue is an editorial the newspaper published that falsely linked her to the shooting of Gabby Giffords and several other people several years ago by a deranged gunman. The piece was published in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican, by another mentally disturbed shooter. The Times later issued a correction that Palin and her lawyers found to be inadequate.

Why did the Times attack Palin?

The editorial in question resurrected an old, discredited accusation that a graphic put out by Ms. Palin’s political action committee that depicted a number of congressional districts with crosshairs had somehow inspired the mass shooting that killed several people and wounded Rep. Giffords. But, subsequently, law enforcement concluded that the shooter, Jared Loughner, has never seen the graphic and had shot Giffords because he had a mental illness.

Team Palin is maintaining that the “Times conduct was committed knowingly, intentionally, willfully, wantonly and maliciously, with the intent to harm Mrs. Palin, or in blatant disregard of the substantial likelihood of causing her harm, thereby entitling Mrs.

Palin to an award of punitive damages." In other words, the article met the stringent standards needed for a defamation of a public figure.

Can Palin win the legal action?

The Times responded with a statement that it intends to defend itself “vigorously” However, as Hulk Hogan proved when he sued a gossip site called the Gawker, it is possible for a public figure to take down a news organization in a Legal Action.

It should be noted that two members of Palin’s legal team, Ken Turkel, and Shane Vogt, represented the wrestler in the Gawker lawsuit that resulted in an over $140 million judgment and the demise of the gossip website.

Almost as important, the New York Times has already lost in the court of public opinion. By issuing a retraction, as half-hearted and inadequate as it was, the newspaper has already admitted that its original editorial was false.

Thus, Palin could very conceivably prevail in a court of law, with all that implies.

What can the newspaper do?

Despite brave posturing that it is going to defend itself “vigorously,” the Times would be in its best interests if it tries to settle as quickly as possible. The paper has managed to make Sarah Palin famous again and make her a sympathetic figure in an era where public trust of the news media is at an all-time low. Palin would be forgiven for wanting to put liberal bias on the part of the media on trial. She has been on the receiving end of vicious attacks since she first ran for vice president in 2008. It may be, therefore, that she will not be satisfied with a full apology on the front page and an undisclosed monetary settlement.