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Ex-Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, who claims she had a 10-month affair with Pres. Trump before he became president, is suing Fox News for defamation.
McDougal is claiming that Tucker Carlson intentionally defamed her on the Dec. 10, 2018, broadcast of his Fox News prime-time show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
According to The New York Times, McDougal alleges in a lawsuit that was filed in New York State court this morning, that Carlson had falsely accused her of extortion last year when he said that she “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.”
The Times’ Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reports:
Ms. McDougal said in the lawsuit, which was filed in a New York State court, that she had never threatened Mr. Trump. She is seeking damages against Fox News for harming her reputation but does not name Mr. Carlson as a defendant. The network is responsible for his comments, she said, and his accusations were reckless and easy to verify as false.
A Fox News spokesperson told TVNewser in a statement: “Fox News will vigorously defend Tucker Carlson against these meritless claims.”
In an interview with Anderson Cooper last year, McDougal said she first met Trump at the Playboy Mansion in 2006 while he was filming an episode of The Celebrity Apprentice. Her affair with Trump allegedly began in June 2006 and continued until she broke it off in April 2007.
Shortly before the 2016 election, The National Inquirer, owned by Trump’s friend David Pecker, bought the rights to McDougal’s story of the affair for $150,000 and then did not publish it, a move we all now know as “Catch and Kill.” McDougal was bound by the deal, which disallowed her from discussing the alleged affair, until April 2018, when she came to a settlement agreement with American Media Inc., which publishes the Inquirer.
On the Dec. 10, 2018, broadcast of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host referred to The National Inquirer’s payment as “ransom” and said McDougal’s behavior “sounds like a classic case of extortion.” Carlson’s guest progressive radio host Chris Hahn responded by saying “extortion hadn’t been proven yet, nor has it even been alleged.”
“I’m alleging it because it’s obvious,” Carlson claimed. “You’re not going to pay $100,000, $150,000 or $200,000 to someone unless there’s a threat to you and your reputation. This is extortion, and I don’t know why it’s not being prosecuted. I don’t know why Trump isn’t defending himself on those grounds, I would.”
Carlson did not name McDougal but a picture of her was shown during the discussion.
The now-president has denied the affair happened.
“No matter which version of Trump’s statements one believes, Trump never once claimed that he was extorted” by Ms. McDougal, her attorney, Eric Bernstein, wrote in the lawsuit.
This case is going to be a tough one for McDougal to win, to be completely frank. Carlson and Fox News have solid protections under the First Amendment and it’s likely that McDougal’s suit will be settled or even dismissed by a court before going to trial.