As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, Fox News is facing a lawsuit from former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who is accusing Carlson of defaming her and accusing her of a crime during a segment on a payment she reportedly received from National Enquirer due to an alleged affair with Donald Trump.
According to Fox News' attorney Erin Murphy, Carlson's comments cannot be interpreted as stating facts, and it cannot be proven that he made the allegedly defamatory statements with malice — something McDougal must prove due to her status as a public figure.
"What we're talking about here, it's not the front page of the New York Times. It's Tucker Carlson Tonight, which is a commentary show."At one point, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil pressed Murphy on whether Carlson has a "duty of inquiry" in his role at the network.
"Not as to an actual malice standard," Murphy said. "The Supreme Court could not be clearer."
McDougal allegedly takes issue with Carlson's implication that she — along with adult film actress Stormy Daniels — tried to extort Trump.
"Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn't give them money," Carlson said during the segment. "Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion."Fox News has faced multiple lawsuits in recent years. As reported by Variety, the network was recently sued by nonprofit watchdog Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics, (WASHLITE), which attempted to prevent it from broadcasting any of its popular opinion programs, including Tucker Carlson Tonight and Hannity. The suit came amid the network's controversial coronavirus coverage, which some suggested was a danger to public health. Nevertheless, it was dismissed by King County Superior Court Judge Brian McDonald, Times of San Diego reported.
"WASHLITE's professed goal in this lawsuit – to ensure that the public receives accurate information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 – is laudable," McDonald said in an eight-page order.
Despite his positive words, he ultimately ruled that the suit runs contrary to First Amendment protections.
"This Court concludes that WASHLITE's [Consumer Protection Act] claim against Fox is barred under the First Amendment. Fox's motion to dismiss is GRANTED."Fox News host Trish Regan was previously benched over her controversial remarks on the coronavirus, which she suggested was an attempt to harm Trump politically.