Good news for Fox News: A Manhattan judge has tossed out a defamation suit against the network that was brought by former Playboy model Karen McDougal, the woman who took a $150,000 payoff from National Enquirer published AMI to kill her story of an alleged affair in 2006-2007 with then-businessman Donald Trump.
McDougal had alleged in the complaint filed late last year that Tucker Carlson slandered her on his prime-time program by calling the payout “a classic case of extortion.” U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil ruled Thursday morning that McDougal was unable to prove that Carlson was accusing her of an actual crime in a way that would support a defamation claim.
The judge wrote that Carlson’s remarks were “rhetorical hyperbole,” adding that they were “opinion commentary intended to frame a political debate, and as such, are not actionable as defamation.”
TVNewser was provided the following statement from a Fox News spokesperson: “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 decision is a victory not just for Fox News Media, but for all defenders of the First Amendment.”
McDougal sat down with Anderson Cooper on CNN in March 2018 to tell her story about the alleged 10-month affair in 2006-2007 with Trump.
The White House has previously denied the affair in a statement to The New Yorker.
She had been bound by a 2016 legal agreement in which she received $150,000 to, among other things, sell her story to AMI, which had no intention of printing her story, her lawyer claimed. AMI chief executive David Pecker has described President Trump as “a personal friend.”
McDougal’s claim was made public not long after Cooper sat down with porn star Stormy Daniels and her attorney Michael Avennati on 60 Minutes. Daniels claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006.