Fox News Sued By Ray Epps Over Claim He Was At Center Of January 6th Conspiracy
Fox News is facing a new defamation lawsuit from a man who claims that its former host Tucker Carlson falsely identified him as an undercover FBI agent who triggered the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
The lawsuit was filed in Delaware Superior Court, the same venue where the network recently faced a lengthy trial over Dominion Voting Systems defamation claims that its hosts and guests amplified a false narrative that the company rigged the 2020 presidential election. Fox News settled the case for $787.5 million.
Epps, who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, and believed that the latter election was stolen from him, according to the lawsuit. Although he participated in the protest on January 6th, he “did not believe violence was appropriate,” acted to deescalate the situation and left the grounds for his hotel, according to the lawsuit. He did not enter the Capitol and, until recently, was not charged with a crime, but Carlson continued to cite Epps and floated the notion that he was being protected by federal law enforcement.
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“Having promoted the lie that Joe Biden stole the election, having urged people to come to Washington, DC, and having helped light and then pour gasoline on a fire that resulted in an insurrection that interfered with the peaceful transition of power, Fox needed to mask its culpability. It also needed a narrative that did not alienate its viewers, who had grown distrustful of Fox because of its perceived lack
of fealty to Trump,” the lawsuit stated.
Epps accuses the network of making him a “scapegoat” for what happened in the Capitol attack. with a “years-long” campaign of spreading falsehoods about him.
A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
On Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray, appearing at a congressional hearing, rejected claims that Epps was working as a government agent. He also said it was “ludicrous” to think that the FBI was somehow behind the attack on the Capitol.
In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, the FBI posted a photo of Epps on its website, seeking information about him. According to his lawsuit, he immediately contacted them, and later met with FBI officials, before the agency removed his photo from their website in July, 2021, according to the lawsuit.
But Carlson, the lawsuit claims, became “fixated” with Epps, as the host promoted the idea that the January 6th attack was a “false flag” operation. That included a documentary series, Patriot Purge, that was first posted on Fox Nation later in the year.
Carlson told viewers on January 11, 2022 that Epps was the “central figure” in the attack on the Capitol, and later claimed that he helped “stage-manage” the insurrection, while accusing government officials of a cover up. The focus on Epps continued throughout 2022 and into this year.
Other Fox personalities, including Laura Ingraham and Will Cain, also promoted the conspiracy theory about Epps, according to the lawsuit.
Epps’ lawsuit also contends that Carlson was not stating his opinion, but “bluntly telling his viewers that it was a fact that Epps was a government informant.” Epps’ lawsuit accuses Carlson of relying on “distorted and selectively edited videos, combined with an untruthful voiceover and a false or misleading chyron.”
Carlson also ignored Epps’ sworn testimony to the January 6th Committee that he was not working on behalf of the government, the lawsuit notes.
“Contrary to Fox’s lies, Ray was not a federal agent of any kind, was not law enforcement of any kind, and was not any type of government agent or informant, or acting on behalf of the government in any capacity when he participated in the protests on January 6th,” according to his lawsuit.
Epps claims that he and his wife, Robyn, have received death threats and bullet casings in their yard, along with threatening voicemails, emails and text messages. The lawsuit includes transcriptions of some of the messages. The Epps’ also claim that they were forced to sell their house and stop running their business because of the harassment.
More to come.
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