A Fox News Channel attorney is seeking the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Playboy model against host Tucker Carlson, who likened her to an extortionist, the Washington Examiner reported.
“There’s no statement that a reasonable viewer would understand in this context to state something provably false,” Erin Murphy argued, according to the Examiner.
“Directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom”
Along with the adult entertainer known professionally as Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal gained attention over their claims regarding affairs with Donald Trump. Prior to the 2016 election, McDougal reached an agreement with the National Enquirer, which reportedly paid for her story before quashing it in a practice known as “catch and kill.”
The then-candidate went on to face accusations that he violated campaign finance laws with the “hush money” payments. One-time friend and attorney Michael Cohen was eventually sent to jail in part for his role in making those payments.
Carlson, however, argued in 2018 that allegations against the president did not “make any sense,” suggesting that McDougal engaged in extortion when she “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.”
He went on to assert that Trump gave in to the demands “and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom.”
Though Carlson did not mention McDougal’s name, her photo appeared during the segment. She sued the cable news network in December over the comments.
McDougal’s lawyer presented the case that Carlson was speaking in an “absolute, journalistic way,” but lawyers for the host say his words did not meet the standard of “actual malice” needed to prove slander, Bloomberg reported.
“Will vigorously defend Tucker Carlson”
A Fox News Channel statement released in December declared that the company “will vigorously defend Tucker Carlson against these meritless claims.”
Carlson has also faced backlash in response to unrelated commentary he has made amid ongoing civil unrest and protests in support of police reform.
In the wake of his controversial remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this month, companies including Disney, T-Mobile, and Papa John’s have announced that they have cut ties with the program, CBS News reports.
While he has been a lightning rod for criticism, Carlson also remains one of the network’s most popular personalities. It appears that, at least for now, he continues to enjoy the backing of the executives who call the shots.