In a 2017 editorial, the New York Times fact-checker overlooked this allegation regarding Palin.

A New York Times fact-checker testified in court Monday that she did not double-check a 2017 editorial's statement of a strong relationship between a map issued by Sarah Palin's political action committee and the 2011 mass shooting that injured Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Eileen Lepping, who spoke by video at Palin's federal court trial in Manhattan against the Times, said the error may be ascribed to a "combination of circumstances," including her working hastily due to a deadline.

Lepping was responding to questions from Judge Jed Rakoff, who asked her about the fact-checking process to ensure he understood the answers she gave during her testimony to counsel for Palin and the Times.

Rakoff pressed her on specific points in the editorial, such as the claim that there was a "clear" link proving that the 2011 massacre was politically motivated by a map issued by Palin's political action committee.

The map depicted congressional districts, including Giffords', with stylised cross hairs resembling gun sights.

The New York Times claimed that the map from Palin's PAC is a "clear" link to the mass shooting involving Giffords in 2011.
The New York Times claimed that the map from Palin’s PAC is a “clear” link to the mass shooting involving Giffords in 2011.
Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Giffords Law Center

“Was that because those are not the kind of facts you fact-check, or was it an oversight or what?” Rakoff asked. 

“It could have been a combination of things … I was checking things fast on deadline … my reading of it led me not to have looked at that specifically,” Lepping responded.

“I did the best of my ability in the time that I had,” she added. 

Palin sued the Times in 2017 for an editorial titled "America's Lethal Politics," which was published after a shooter opened fire on congressional Republicans at a baseball field in Northern Virginia.

The writer referred to the Arizona mass shooting from years ago, claiming that "the relationship to the political provocation was evident."

Palin arriving in court for the defamation trial on February 7, 2022.
Palin arriving at court for the defamation trial on February 7, 2022.
Alec Tabak for NY Post

"Before the shooting, Sarah Palin's political action organization distributed a map of targeted electoral districts that depicted Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats as stylized cross hairs," the editorial stated.

Lepping said Monday that the morning after the editorial was published, she saw a police report in which it was claimed that the Arizona gunman was not motivated by politics. The editorial was revised the next day by The New York Times.

A Times representative claimed last week that the error was inadvertent and that Palin's lawsuit is without substance.

Lepping said the fact-checking error could be due to her working on deadline.
Lepping said the fact-checking error could be due to her working on deadline.
Alec Tabak for NY Post

“In this trial we are seeking to reaffirm a foundational principle of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish unintentional errors by news organizations,” the spokesperson said. 

“We published an editorial about an important topic that contained an inaccuracy. We set the record straight with a correction,” they added.

The former editorial page editor, James Bennet, is listed as a defendant in the claim and is scheduled to testify at the trial later this week.

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