Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and former Alaska governor, has tested positive for Covid-19, a judge announced Monday as her defamation trial against The New York Times was set to begin.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan, who is presiding over the case, announced that “Ms. Palin had tested positive for conoronavirus.”
“She is, of course, unvaccinated,” he added.
Rakoff said Palin’s positive test came from an at-home test whose reliability was lower than tests administered at the courthouse and required for the trial. She is set to be retested to determine if jury selection can begin later Monday or the trial should be adjourned, probably until Feb. 3.
Palin’s suit alleges that The New York Times defamed her in an editorial that appeared to link her to political violence after the shooting of House Republican Whip Steve Scalise in 2017.
In an editorial titled “America’s Lethal Politics“ — an unsigned piece by the paper’s editorial board — the newspaper included language from a political action committee associated with Palin among examples of “how vicious American politics has become.”
Citing the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in Tucson, the editorial said: “Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.”
Writings by the gunman in the 2011 case made it clear that he’d been planning the attack for a long time before the Palin map was circulated. Moreover, the map didn’t depict Giffords and the other Democrats themselves in cross-hairs — only outlines of their congressional districts.
Palin strongly objected to the editorial in a Facebook post, calling it “sickening” and characterizing it as an attempt “to destroy innocent people with lies and more fake news.”
The Times soon corrected the editorial, saying there was no link between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting, as well as clarifying its depiction of the map. The correction didn’t mention Palin by name.
Palin and members of her family also tested positive for Covid-19 in April of last year. At the time, she urged people to continue social distancing and wear face masks.