Fox News host Tucker Carlson has faced backlash for his on-air comments in the past, often in the form of social media criticism and boycotts.
One of the most serious reactions to his remarks is apparently no longer a threat, though, according to reports that model Karen McDougal’s defamation lawsuit against Carlson was dismissed by a federal judge in New York.
“Threatened to ruin his career”
McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump nearly a decade before he ran for president in 2016, sued both Carlson and his employer last year over remarks he made the previous year during an episode of his program.
While discussing the scandal, Carlson displayed photos of McDougal and former adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who made similar claims. The host went on to note that the “undisputed facts” of the case were based primarily on the word of Trump’s disgraced former attorney, Michael Cohen.
Carlson went on to claim that the women “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family” if they did not receive money to keep their allegations quiet.
“Now, that sounds like a classic case of extortion,” he concluded. It was that assertion on which McDougal hinged her legal complaint. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, however, was not convinced by the argument.
“The Court concludes that the statements are rhetorical hyperbole and opinion commentary intended to frame a political debate, and, as such, are not actionable as defamation,” she wrote in a 19-page opinion.
“Failed to do so”
Vyskocil further advised that McDougal, “as a public figure,” has the added burden of raising “a plausible inference of actual malice to sustain her defamation claim” and “has failed to do so.”
In a statement to The Hill, a Fox News Channel spokesperson described the development as a win for the network and the First Amendment.
“Karen McDougal’s lawsuit attempted to silence spirited opinion commentary on matters of public concern,” the statement read. “The court today held that the First Amendment plainly prohibits such efforts to stifle free speech.”
For her part, McDougal reiterated her stance that “reporting something you know is a lie as ‘news’ or ‘undisputed facts’ is the very definition of malicious.”
Her definition, it seems, does not line up with the parameters established within the law.