Washington (CNN) - Fox News has sued the Senate campaign of Democrat Robin Carnahan in Missouri, claiming improper use of an interview by the cable channel with her opponent Roy Blunt for a "smear ad."
The 2006 interview with Fox's Chris Wallace was used in a recent Carnahan ad, implying the journalist was supporting Blunt – a Republican congressman. The lawsuit says Wallace, as host of "Fox News Sunday," had asked Blunt about the congressman's efforts to become a permanent House Majority Leader. He served in that post in an interim fashion from 2005-06.
In a lawsuit filed in Kansas City Thursday, Fox News claims copyright infringement and invasion of Wallace's privacy. In a 14-page filing, the Democrat's campaign was accused of violating "FNC's valuable and proprietary creative expression" by using the news clip without permission. "The Carnahan ad is designed to make it appear as if Wallace- a trusted journalist- is instead speaking as a campaign operative," said the complaint.
Read the lawsuit here
The complaint notes that Wallace's questions are used in the advertisement but not include Blunt's responses. "The Carnahan Ad is designed to make it appear as if Wallace – a trusted journalist – is instead speaking as a campaign operative. The defendant's conduct in stealing only certain footage from the FNS Interview is also false and misleading: Wallace's tough questions were included, but Blunt's answers and explanations were not."
The 32 second ad, released Monday, consists almost entirely of clips from the Blunt interview on Fox News. Wallace is seen asking, "You have to show you're the party of reform," and "But some question whether you are the man to do that." Wallace also asks about Blunt's past links to convicted, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and to a Philip Morris tobacco lobbyist he was dating at the time. "Are you the one to clean up the House?" asks Wallace. The ad closes with an unseen narrator saying, "Roy Blunt: The Worst of Washington." Carnahan is heard at the beginning saying she approved this ad, as required by the FEC.
Blunt is never shown answering any of the questions. The ad was called "Clean Up the House" and had run on television and on the Web. Current efforts to view the video online were unsuccessful, with the message, "The interview with Roy Blunt that Fox News doesn't want you to see has been temporarily removed. Check back soon."
The complaint says Wallace's "private self-esteem and dignity" were affected by the ad, causing him "emotional or mental distress and suffering." Fox seeks legal fees and unspecified damages.
Blunt and Carnahan are locked in a tough fight over the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond.
The case is Fox News Network and Christopher Wallace v. Robin Carnahan for Senate Inc. (10-906).
Spokesperson for Carnahan's campaign, Linden Zakula responded with this statement, "We stand behind our ad and will continue to tell the truth about Congressman Roy Blunt's attempt to slip a secret provision into the Homeland Security Act to benefit tobacco giant Philip Morris, while he was dating the company's lobbyist. It's unclear why Fox News refuses to stand by its own content that simply asked questions about Congressman Blunt's Washington record and ties to convicted felon lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Congressman Blunt's 14 year record of wasteful spending, corruption and sticking it to the middle class represents the very worst of Washington: he does not deserve a promotion to the Senate."
Fox News has not responded to CNN's request for comment.
Updated 8:30 p.m. ET