Karen McDougal, a former magazine model who says she had an affair with Donald Trump, has filed a lawsuit claiming that Fox News defamed her by airing a segment in which host Tucker Carlson accused her of extortion.
“Carlson’s statements were intentionally false and made with reckless disregard for the truth,” the lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges.
On the Dec. 10, 2018, episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Carlson told viewers McDougal was one of two women who “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and his family if he didn’t give them money.”
“Now that,” Carlson added, “sounds like a classic case of extortion.”
The lawsuit, filed in a New York State court, says Fox is liable for Carlson’s claim, which he advertised to his nearly 3 million viewers as the “undisputed facts” about payments to McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who also says she had an affair with Trump.
“Indeed, every individual involved in the payment that Trump caused to be paid to McDougal never once stated that she extorted Trump or otherwise committed any crime or unlawful act whatsoever,” the lawsuit says.
Multiple outlets have reported that Trump coordinated with his former lawyer Michael Cohen to issue hush-money payments to McDougal and Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Cohen is currently serving a three-year prison sentence for campaign finance violations and his role in the scheme to hide those payments, and Cohen’s criminal indictment seemed to implicate the president as well.
Trump’s involvement in the hush-money payments is reportedly still of interest to Congress. Carlson claimed that Trump had merely caved to an extortion attempt ― “for whatever reason,” he said, incuriously ― and directed his personal lawyer to “pay the ransom.”
Responding to the lawsuit, Fox News said in a statement that the network “will vigorously defend Tucker Carlson against these meritless claims.”
Read the lawsuit below.
CORRECTION: The episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” at issue ran on Dec. 10, 2018 ― not on a December date this year, as the story previously indicated.