September 16th, 2010
03:08 PM ET
12 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. Barry Story

    Fox News suing somebody? What nerve after the way they twist and take comments out of context to suit their own political agenda. What a bunch of scum bags.

    September 16, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Dave

    Just a thought: is suing the Democrat really the best way to prove that you're not biased in favor of the Republican?

    September 16, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Rosslaw

    Yet another demonstration by Faux News of its abiding regard for the First Amendment. Hopefully it will have the same positive effect for Carnahan that its Bill O'Reilly sponsored "Fair and Balanced" lawsuit against Al Franken seeking to ban him from publisihing his book, "Fair and Balanced", had on Franken's book sales.

    September 16, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. FOX you are childish and annoying

    hopefully you will go out of business

    September 16, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Seattle Sue

    I have never thought of Wallace as a trusted journalist, he sure as hell does not give a fair and balanced view.

    September 16, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Mike W - Dallas

    A Fox News "journalist" favoring a republican candidate? That would neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeever happen.


    September 16, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Barry Story

    Fox News suing somebody? What nerve after the way they twist and take comments out of context to suit their own political agenda. Fair and balanced?

    September 16, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. ApotheosisAZ

    Fox isn't interested in winning this lawsuit. The purpose of this lawsuit is to harass a candidate.

    When will the courts put a stop this blatant misuse of foreign money to try and tie up an American candidate's time and legal funds?

    September 16, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |

    Fox always endorsed the gop

    September 16, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. richard in Montana

    And,??? Did you expect FAUX NEWS to claim anything different.....their "journalists" are a joke!!!!

    September 16, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Republicans is smart in the head area

    Meg Whitman is using a CNN clip to smear Jerry Brown and that's OK apparently. Fox gives $1M to the GOP and then sues a Democratic candidate because their "trusted journalist" appears to be supporting the GOP. Gimme a break.

    September 16, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Deb

    You've got to be kidding me!!! Fox news suing anyone for "smear ads" and violating creative expression is the epitome of the pot calling the kettle black. Fox is the leader in smears and violations of creative expression. They've gotten so bad with their slanted reporting and misleading tactics that them suing anyone is beyond belief. The audacity of them. I think its time that we, the general public, sue Fox news for promoting misleading facts and half truths and creating a hostile political environment when talking to anyone who actually watches Fox political coverage. Their viewers are grossly misinformed and can not hold a political banter without resorting to name calling and presumptions that anyone who disagrees with them is a "liberal democrat" no matter your actual party affiliation. It truly is as if Fox brainwashes their viewers. And Rupert Murdoch is going to now open a news station in the middle East? That's frightening. So if they can sue, how about we normal citizens who are the victims of their viewers?

    September 16, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. AndyBlue

    Fox news is out of control. I cant believe this can happen in America. From taking out full page adds for tea party garbage to the daily accusations against our president.

    These corporations are taking over right in front of our eyes.

    We are being laughed at all over the world and deservingly so. Hardly a way to keep their backing what we need it.

    September 16, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. hillcrester

    I hope this goes to trial, but it won't It would be interesting to see if Faux News could be proven in a Court of Law to be acting on behalf of and for the benefit of Republican candidates. And as to "invasion of Wallace's privacy," does an on-camera, public figure interviewer whose interview is aired have any expectation of privacy regarding the use of those words? I don't think so, but I understand why Fauxers would not want to let the implied accusation stand.

    September 16, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Darth Cheney

    As Fox News is a Republican operative, any charges relating to that argument won't stick.

    September 16, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Observer

    Of course they are suing a Democrat. They wouldn't sue anyone from their own party.

    September 16, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Pete in Guilford

    Is it an invasion of Chris Wallace's privacy, when the clip that was used was aired and millions of people probably saw it at the time it was aired?!? Give me a break.
    The copyright thing may be an actual issue, however if it's really Fox NEWS (as opposed to Fox Fiction or Opinion Network), wouldn't this clip be covered by some kind of fair use doctrine since it is theoretically news? Maybe Fox is finally admitting that they're not really news.

    September 16, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. chris24

    a trusted journalist?

    who are they kidding?

    September 16, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  19. D

    How do you call anyone on Fox "news" a trusted journalist. As far as I can see they're all right wing hacks who have trouble telling the truth.

    September 16, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. John

    Fox News is an operative of the Republican Party. What's news about that? The Fox lawsuit is just another weapon in the GOP arsenal being used to damage Democrats.

    September 16, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. Steve in North Carolina

    The Dems are desperate indeed!

    September 16, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  22. lovable liberal

    This isn't about copyright. It's about intervening on behalf of a Republican and censoring a Democrat's Fair Use of copyrighted materials

    September 16, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. The Decider

    "FNC's valuable and proprietary creative expression"
    Indeed, nobody does it fairer or balanceder...

    September 16, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Marie MD

    OMG!!! faux news going after somebody for false reporting and lying?
    Let's see USDA; insanity with a clip from President Obama where he is telling us "that taxes need to be raised" and insanity being so crass about i?. Except that it was about four to five words of a sentence/paragraph and he did NOT mean that at all!!!
    The FCC should pull faux news' permit. They are a bunch of haters and liars and they don't report the news they make it up with whatever makes sense to them and their idiot viewers.

    September 16, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. johnRJ08

    Would love to see a countersuit here demanding that FOX give equal time to all Democrats whenever the network has Republican guests on its various "news" programs. This network should have its FCC license revoked.

    September 16, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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