Judge tosses Karen McDougal’s defamation suit against Tucker Carlson

A U.S. District Court judge tossed out a defamation lawsuit brought against Fox News by former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who took a $150,000 payoff to repress her claim of an affair with then-candidate Donald Trump before his presidency. 

McDougal had claimed in the lawsuit filed in 2019 that Fox News host Tucker Carlson slandered her by referring to the payoff as “a classic case of extortion.” But Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, a Trump appointee, ruled that McDougal did not prove that Carlson was incriminating her of a crime in a manner that could be considered defamation, with the judge calling it “rhetorical hyperbole” from the opinion host.

“The statements are rhetorical hyperbole and opinion commentary intended to frame a political debate, and, as such, are not actionable as defamation,” Vyskocil wrote.  

In a Thursday statement, Fox News called the decision a victory for the network and “all defenders of the First Amendment.”
“Karen McDougal’s lawsuit attempted to silence spirited opinion commentary on matters of public concern. The court today held that the First Amendment plainly prohibits such efforts to stifle free speech,” the statement reads. “The decision is a victory not just for FOX News Media, but for all defenders of the First Amendment.”  
McDougal disagreed with the decision in an email to the Associated Press. 

“I believe reporting something you know is a lie as ‘news’ or ‘undisputed facts’ is the very definition of malicious,” she wrote.

McDougal has claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, which Trump and the White House denied when it first came to light more than two years ago.  

“This is an old story that is just more fake news. The president says he never had a relationship with McDougal,” a White House spokesperson said in February 2018. 

Tags Donald Trump Tucker Carlson

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