DeRay Mckesson Sues Fox & Friends Host for Saying He Incited Violence Against a Cop

Patrick Semansky, File/AP Images
Patrick Semansky, File/AP Images

DeRay Mckesson filed a lawsuit against Fox & Friends host Jeanine Pirro for defamation on Tuesday for claiming that he incited violence against a Baton Rouge, La., cop during a 2016 protest. The suit was filed in New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan.

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As the New York Daily News reports, Pirro’s commentary stems from her coverage of a separate lawsuit filed against Mckesson and Black Lives Matter by an anonymous Baton Rouge police officer. Mckesson and BLM were in Baton Rouge to protest the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling. The cop claimed that he was hit in the face with a rock by one of the protesters—an assault, he said, that was directed by Mckesson.

But on Sept. 28, a federal judge threw out the suit because the officer couldn’t provide any evidence that Mckesson incited the violence. The Louisiana judge also ruled that Black Lives Matter, as a social movement, could not be sued.

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The lack of evidence didn’t seem to matter to Pirro, a former Westchester County, N.Y., district attorney. She stuck to the anonymous officer’s side of the story, naming McKesson as the organizer of the protest and telling Fox & Friends viewers that he was “actually directing people, was directing the violence.”

Bear in mind—this was after the judge had ruled that there was no proof Mckesson did any of these things.

“You’ve got a police officer who was injured; he was injured at the direction of DeRay Mckesson,” Pirro said on the “news” program. “DeRay Mckesson walks away with $100,000, for an organization that is amorphous. We got a problem in this country.”

Fox & Friends is the most watched cable propaganda news show in its time slot and, according to AdWeek, is having its most watched year in program history.

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Mckesson called this out in the suit.

“Pirro made these false statements of fact on the highest-viewed morning cable show in the country, Fox & Friends, which reaches over 1.7 million viewers,” he said.

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He says that Pirro’s widely viewed comments have endangered his safety. Although Pirro claimed via Twitter that her statements were based on the Baton Rouge cop’s lawsuit, Mckesson pointed out that she had described them as though they were facts, not as though they were merely the officer’s side of the story.

“These statements of fact are false,” reads Mckesson’s suit, “and were either known to be false by Defendant Pirro or were made with reckless disregard for whether they were true.”

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Libel and defamation cases against media outlets are notoriously difficult to win because malicious intent needs to be proved (while getting facts wrong because of negligence can ruin an outlet’s reputation, the First Amendment protects the media’s right to get it wrong from time to time). Earlier this year, a judge dismissed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against the New York Times on the grounds that actual malice couldn’t be proved.

Fox News says it will fight the defamation suit.

Read more at the New York Daily News.

Staff writer, The Root.

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DISCUSSION

megantj
Dinosaurs and Nachos, Very Legal and Very Cool!

This is a great test case for malicious intent.

Because if there is one thing that judges don’t like, it’s people who ignore their rulings. (Or their colleagues’ rulings.) It was one thing for the cop to sue McKesson, but this is an entirely different situation, specifically because there was a ruling in that case. The “facts” had already been presented to a court and there was no evidence to support them.

And since Pirro was referencing that lawsuit in her statement, SHE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. You don’t get to cherry-pick information and misrepresent a case that has already been decided, lady. You don’t get to Monday-morning quarterback other judges specifically because you don’t like someone.

I mean, that right there sounds like malicious intent. She wasn’t even critiquing the ruling, she was specifically defaming McKesson personally. And the whole of Fox News’s bias should absolutely be introduced here to support this argument. They will probably settle with him in order to avoid that specific legal argument. They do not want to have to go public with the racist emails that we all know exist. Which I think McKesson knows.

Goddamn. I’m excited for this one.