Viewer sues Fox News for libel

The viewer suddenly became the news, and then everything got out of hand.

An Arizona entrepreneur, Republican, Trumpist and Fox News stalwart has just filed a libel lawsuit against the US conservative right-wing network and its star ex-host Tucker Carlson for being repeatedly and baselessly portrayed as a undercover federal government agent who “helped stage” the January 6, 2021, uprising against the Capitol.

In a document filed this week in a Delaware court, Ray Epps – that’s his name – believes that the “consequences” of this “malicious” campaign have been “astronomical” on his life and that of his wife, Robyn. He is waiting for a jury to establish the amount of damages he should receive for such harm, while recalling in passing Dominion Voting Systems’ recent defamation lawsuit against the television network.

We remember: Fox ended the proceedings last April by paying Dominion $787.5 million for the lies uttered on the air against the company on its voting machines. In order to justify the defeat of Donald Trump, this electoral material had been presented, without proof, as the vectors of an electoral fraud which the Republicans have never managed to demonstrate, moreover.

“As Fox recently learned in its litigation with Dominion Voting Systems, its lies have consequences,” reads the lawsuit filed by Mr. Epps.

In 53 pages, the document summarizes the ordeal of this sympathizer of Donald Trump, having voted for the populist in 2016 and 2020 underline his lawyers. A loyal Fox News viewer convinced by his favorite network in 2020 that Joe Biden was elected on the basis of voter fraud, he traveled to Washington in January 2021 to take part in protests outside the Capitol.

Under the harangues of the ex-president, the event quickly turned into a riot, then an insurrection against the seat of the American legislative power, where the elected officials were gathered to certify the vote confirming the election of the democrat. The attack on a symbol of American democracy has shaken the country.

In the weeks that followed, Fox News and its star host fueled a conspiracy theory that the insurgency was orchestrated by a state within a state serving the Democrats, to make Donald Trump look bad.

Diverted images of Ray Epps, captured on the spot, were used by Fox and Tucker Carlson to justify this thesis and present this ex-Marine as an undercover FBI agent inciting protesters to break into the Capitol. Accusations, baseless, denounced by Mr. Epps and his lawyers in a letter sent to Fox News in March 2021, but repeated almost 20 times by the former star host in his daily program, head car of the conservative network.

Under oath before the House Committee investigating Jan. 6, the Fox News victim reiterated that he had no ties to the FBI or any other government agencies. The man said he was in Washington that day only as an angry citizen. Like thousands of others.

A life upside down

The entrepreneur, a specialist in organizing weddings in Arizona, assures that this unhealthy and ill-informed media attention has compromised his business. The document filed in court also exposes a series of hate messages and death threats received. Ray Epps and his wife had to hire security guards and then live in hiding, it says.

‘After destroying Mr. Epps’ reputation and livelihood, Fox moved on to his other stories’, as the couple found themselves in a ‘350 square foot recreational vehicle’ to escape ‘harassment’ and live in fear, we can read. “Fox must be held accountable.”

Last April, in the days following the settlement of the lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems, the Fox News network severed its ties with its star host, Tucker Carlson, an emblematic figure of the radical right and conspiratorial American.

Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is facing another $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic. Like Dominion Voting Systems, it had been accused, without proof, but fiercely, by Fox News of having participated in electoral fraud .

For lawyer Siddartha Rao, the lawsuit against Ray Epps is “pretty solid” and exposes the network to “serious risks”, she said, quoted by The Guardian.

For more than 20 years, Fox News has been regularly singled out, accused of being one of the tools used by the right to divide the American population and polarize public debate in the United States, often by not hesitating to place in a partisan way, in complete contradiction to the facts.

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