September 16th, 2010
03:08 PM ET
13 years ago

Fox News files suit against Carnahan

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Fox News has sued the campaign of Missouri Senate candidate Robin Carnahan."]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

Filed under: Fox News • Robin Carnahan • Roy Blunt
soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. Charles W. Skinner

    Yeah. Carnahan is doomed. This is obviously a violation of copyright. It does not fall into the 'Fair use' guidelines in any way, shape or form, as it is not commenting on the work itself. She's going to get her hat handed to her in court. Wallace similarly has a cause of action for Defamation depending on how they cut the interview, for misrepresentation of his personal position.

    September 16, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. They Are Not A "News" Organization . . .

    They Are An Arm of The Republic Party.

    September 16, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. Papasan in AZ

    Fox News...

    What a joke!

    September 16, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Please!!!!! As if the world did not know Fox News and Mr. Wallace are the mouth pieace of the GOP.

    Hey Fox, while you're at it sue the rest of America, we all know and say this. Go and get some creditability.

    September 16, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Carl

    Sorry Fox News but until you reign in the slander and lies that your programs produce you have NO right to sue anyone!!

    Clean up House is right – clean up your own house FOX!! And tell Bill O'Reilly that the Imam leading the NY Islamic center HAS actually condemned terrorism. He should get his facts straight instead of just spreading propaganda!

    September 16, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Gary Hanks

    Chris Wallace is not "a trusted journalist" because he IS a biased Republican campaign operative.

    September 16, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Kenneth

    So basically, FOX is upset that her campaign shows them favoring a Republican? Really? So much for their fair and balanced reputation.

    September 16, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Liz the First

    "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. But Faux News, you ARE CAMPAIGN OPERATIVES. that's all you are. you are as far from professional journalism as it's possible to be! hope this trial proves that once and for all!

    September 16, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. D Frost

    Typical dem: break laws, infringe on others because "I'm right, you're wrong," "read the bill after we pass it," Rangel "I did nothing wrong," etc. Blunt may be a schmuck, but it looks like FNC has caught Carnahan with her pants down. If Blunt's transgressions are so egregious, intelligent minds would have figured a way to "out" him without breaking the law. Now, they look just like him.

    September 16, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. blah

    if fox news wants to gain some money all they gotta do is fire Palin. problem solved.

    September 16, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. ART

    Faux news is a farce and a caricature of real news out lets. They all appear to be bigoted and totally and ridiculous one sided.

    September 16, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. NVa Native

    "to make it appear as if Wallace is a trusted journalist, intsead of the fact he is speaking as a campaign operative," would be a true representation of Wallace and fox intentions are.

    The only people who believe the lies and distortions of fox media propoganda are the people who want to believe their lies and distortion.

    September 16, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. David

    FoxNews has been shown time and time again by objective fact-checkers to spin, distort, exxagerate and downright lie to support the right-wing agenda. So why do people continue to watch FoxNews? I think it's because their viewers aren't actually interested in the truth. A rational person would listen to objective facts, then formutlate an opinion based on those facts. But FoxNews viewers do the opposite: they form their opinions FIRST, then they watch FoxNews which filters and distorts facts to match their pre-conceived views.

    September 16, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Ian

    I pride myself on not being naive about the way politics works, but this is very simply a dirty move. Ms. Carnahan's campaign is going to be able to win this case on a motion to dismiss under the fair use doctrine. However, unless the case is expedited, it would take until nearly the election to get the case dismissed. Even if the Carnahan campaign files a motion to dismiss tomorrow, Fox News will get a month to respond. There's no way a hearing could be held prior to very late October. In other words, it's just a dirty tactic to hold an ad they don't like off the air until the election is all but over or over.

    September 16, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. Grog in Ohio

    "journalist" and "Fox News" are words rarely used in the same sentence.

    September 16, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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