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. Paul

    Fox News is angry because someone took a clip out of context...I'm speechless at the irony.

    September 16, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Rich

    Fox news suing a Senate campaign for taking something out of context...... Really all I can say is pot...kettle...

    September 16, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Tim

    Fox News? Partisan?

    Who are we going to believe? Fox or anyone else?

    September 16, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. Moosehead

    i can't stop laughing,... Fox News accusing someone of underhanded tactics?

    September 16, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. James Hendricks

    I'm guessing that FOX has chosen to ignore Fair Use this time, though they've certainly hidden behind it themselves often enough...

    September 16, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. BradKT

    I don't quite see how replaying an interview that has been publicly aired by Fox News constitutes an invasion of the privacy of a public figure like Chris Wallace.

    Whether this material is copyrighted is a different issue, however. Fox did put this out over the public airwaves, so it sounds to me like this lawsuit may not have a lot of merit.

    September 16, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. John

    Interesting. I thought Fox News was/is a political operative for the Republicans. Everyone knows that.

    September 16, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Adam

    LMAO fox trying to pretend its not partisan??

    My god faux is pathetic

    September 16, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Wow. I'm not so sure Faux News really wants to open this can of worms...they're the ones that packed it in the first place.

    Honestly, here's the real cost-benefit analysis:

    Faux could leave well enough alone and ignore it, so they can continue their blatant propaganda unabated and without any scrutiny from the authorities OR

    Faux can risk incurring scrutiny and find itself with a judge that actually doesn't buy their total nonsense and who writes a decision confirming not only that Carnahan was completely within her rights, but that she was, in fact, fairly accurate to portray Wallace as a shill.

    At this point, I would almost argue that a judge could take judicial notice of Faux News' bias as a right wing propaganda/campaign machine. And if you don't know what judicial notice is, go look it up for yourself.

    And CNN, grow a purposefully avoided re-printing the exchange between Blunt and Wallace because you didn't want to get sued too.

    September 16, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. Jessica

    Wow, talk about classy fox news. If you put something out there, you shouldnt pretend like it's not for the world to see...

    September 16, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. JV

    "claiming improper use of an interview" , "implying" Wallace was supporting Blunt

    You've got to be kidding me?!?!?!?!

    Isn't that how Fox makes its money?

    September 16, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Dave Z

    Every person whohas ever been slandered or attacked by Fox News should sue them for defamation of character. There is nothing respectful about Fox News.

    September 16, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Valerie from Raleigh

    Wallace, a trusted journalist? That was indeed the case before he joined Rupert's Fox News which is the truly the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. Last week I watched Fox news for two hours and it told a very telling story. It was constant inuendo about the President's birth place, religion, his love of country and anything and everything detrimentl they could manage to say about him. And now they are going after Ms. Carnaham for using their own biased statements? Unbelievable.

    September 16, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. The Real Nate

    FOX = Republicans. They are one and the same.

    September 16, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Nancy

    Pleaseeeeee, get a life already!

    September 16, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. norma

    Wallace – a trusted journalist? Bwah, ha, ha, ha! Tee, he, he! Oh, stop, please. I'm laughing so hard tears are flowing. Ha, ha, ha, ha! Oh, my sides hurt. This is too funny. He, he, he, he, Haaaaaa!

    September 16, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. Minnesotan

    Considering that FauxNews just got legal permission to lie, fabricate, obfuscate, and report their flatulent fantasies, they're the last one's to be filing a lawsuit against anyone!

    September 16, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Molly Weasley

    It appears as if Chris Wallace of the Fake News Channel is speaking as a campaign operative? That's not news. Remember - this is the "news" organization that donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.

    September 16, 2010 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. Earl Fey

    Why the suit, We all know Fox is fair and balance' and that Wallace or Hannity or Beck would never suopport a Republican. Does Fox think we so stupid that we would assume Wallace is not fair and balanced

    September 16, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. Margarit Tadevosyan

    Really, the same Fox news that got an employee of FDA fired by misquoting her and the one that edited an Obama speech to make it sound like he is insisting on raising taxes for everyone is suing someone for improper use of an interview? Astounding!

    September 16, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. Beverly - NYC

    Pot meet Kettle. Fox suing someone over a smear ad, seriously ,their entire network is built on smearing the Obama adminiatration and any democrat they deem not worthy, not even the Obama children and dog are off limits. Maybe Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes should sue themselves. Hippocrites!!!!

    September 16, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  22. truth

    Fox News sues, ha, ha! The Democrats should be suing Fox news for propaganda! In fact, the world should be suing Fox news for inciting violence among the American citizens and slander they wage against people who have different views.

    September 16, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. timz

    It's the $1 million campaign donation Fox made to the Republican Governors Association that makes people think Chris Wallace (and every other Fox employee) is a "campaign operative" for the Republicans. That, and the nature of their coverage.

    September 16, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Mike

    Isn't Fox News based on mis-interpreting, bending the truth, and misrepresenting facts? That's like having the school bully complaining about being bullied! If they win I hope there will be a wave of law suits against them. They deserve it!

    September 16, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Dave

    And people still don't get how Fox Terror Channel is a propaganda network looking to hurt Democrats in ANY way possible.

    September 16, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
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