Expert: Palin V. NYT Could Change Free Press

February 2, 2022Media Mention
Associated Press

Litigation Partner and First Amendment expert, Doug Mirell, shared his legal perspective with Associated Press regarding the trial of Sarah Palin's lawsuit against The New York Times. View the video to hear Doug's take on this case and how it can potentially affect our conception of what the free press is.


"So ordinarily, in a case involving defamation claims by a public figure, the media ought to feel very confident because the standard established by the New York Times v. Sullivan case from 1964 is an extraordinarily high bar. But in many of these cases, there is a threshold issue which also arises: Was what was published false in the first place? But in this case, the Times has effectively conceded by issuance of its correction that it was in fact false. And so that's not a hurdle that is going to be very difficult to surmount at all. And the question will be really a sort of psychological inquiry into what did the Times know and when did it know it? What should it have known? What sort of investigation did it pursue or not pursue? And those will be very factually dependent questions."

"The Palin v. New York Times case does run the risk that our conception of what a free press is, what it should be allowed to do, and what sorts of mistakes are permissible may well change as a consequence of this case. It could prove to be a landmark decision. And the rules of the road that have existed for the past half century at least could be altered by the outcome of this case."