Sarah Palin Positive for COVID Via Home Test Hours Before Defamation Trial Begins

Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before she was supposed to appear in court for a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, delaying the trial.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said Palin took an at-home test, which is less accurate, according to the Associated Press. Palin took a second rapid test on Monday morning to confirm the results, and it was once again positive, her lawyer said. If Palin is recovered by February 3, Rakoff said, the trial could resume then.

Rakoff said he learned of the positive test Sunday night and announced the news in court Monday before jury selection was supposed to take place, CNN reported.

"We are hopeful the trial will be able to go forward on the new date," Jordan Cohen, executive director for communications at the Times, said in an email to Newsweek.

This is not the first time Palin, 57, has had COVID-19. She has been a staunch opponent of the vaccine, even telling an audience in Arizona last month "it will be over my dead body that I'll have to get a shot," according to AP.

Palin sued the Times in 2017 regarding an editorial she said accused her of inciting the 2011 shooting of former Representative Gabby Giffords, AP reported.

Palin's lawsuit contends the editorial made a false connection between an advertisement made by Palin's political action committee and the mass shooting, with former Times editor James Bennet adding a section that said "the link to political incitement was clear" despite an ABC News story the editorial linked to saying there was no proof the gunman had seen the ad, NPR reported.

The editorial also incorrectly described the contents of the ad, according to NPR. While it showed crosshairs over a map of Democrat-controlled congressional districts, including Giffords', the Times' editorial said the crosshairs went over images of the lawmakers.

Though the Times issued corrections and tweeted an apology the day after publishing, Palin sued. After initially being dismissed, it was reinstated on appeal in 2019, AP reported. Though it had not been confirmed by Palin's lawyers, many assumed she would testify in the trial.

In order to win the case, Palin has to prove Bennet and the Times acted with actual malice, which means they published the editorial knowing the information was false or with "reckless disregard" for the truth, according to NPR.

The report said Bennet cited deadline pressure as a reason for acting so quickly, saying in a text exchange with the article's writer "I just moved too fast." AP reported that Bennet said in pretrial testimony he did not personally research the political action committee ad before moving forward with publication.

Palin's editorial staff did not immediately respond to Newsweek's requests for comment.

Update 01/24/22, 12:45 p.m. ET : This story has been updated with additional information.

Sarah Palin, Colorado, Western Conservative Summit
Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican party vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before she was due in court for a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times. Above, Palin addresses the audience at the 2016 Western Conservative Summit in Denver on July 1, 2016. Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images