13 July 2023

“Fox repeatedly published defamatory falsehoods...”

One of the rioters who took part in the attempted insurrection at the US Capitol on 6th January 2021 is suing Fox News for defamation. In a lawsuit filed yesterday, Ray Epps claims that former Fox host Tucker Carlson falsely implied that he was an undercover FBI agent involved in orchestrating the insurrection.

According to the lawsuit, “Fox repeatedly published defamatory falsehoods about Epps, including by broadcasting and rebroadcasting defamatory statements by Tucker Carlson”. It singles out the 6th January 2023 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight for “communicating as a fact that Epps was a federal agent planted to encourage supporters of Donald Trump to go into the Capitol building on January 6—the core false and defamatory allegation upon which this Complaint by Epps against Fox is predicated.”

In its defence against a previous libel action relating to Carlson, Fox argued that his comments “cannot reasonably be interpreted as facts”, and that his show should be viewed with “an appropriate amount of skepticism”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Carlson was dismissed by the network earlier this year.