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. paylin

    .."a trusted journalist.."?!? HA!

    September 16, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. grayguru

    "...valuable and proprietary creative expression." You must be kidding. FOX just gave Ms. Carnahan and every liberal broadcaster carte blanche to discuss this at length. FOX just did more good for her campaign than if they gave her a million dollars. Go FOX!

    September 16, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. PJ

    What comes around goes around, schmucks. I've got video of "Breitbart" doin' th' nasty...

    September 16, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Foxs News sucks!!!!!!!

    Carnahan has the right. Foxs News is a political arm of the GOP/Tea Party. Foxs News can't have it both ways. When you donate your monies to help your candidate win and slant your news to their advantage you are just a hack!

    September 16, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. TheTraveler

    Well, I guess if Fox News can't find anything worthy to report on, they'll create something unworthy to report on ...

    September 16, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. Steve

    Aww, gee. Poor little old FAUX News. They don't like it when they are outed. They aren't entitled to distort the news then cry proprietary rights when they are caught endorsing political candidates.

    September 16, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. JOhn

    A Fox news "trusted jounalist" was maede to look like he was a campaing opperative? How rediculous is that. Drag a TV into court and show any random 1/2 hour of Fox news and see it for yourself. Fox already declaired they are an entertainment network, not a legitimate new organization, you can't have it both ways and you are not even really fooling the idiots that pretend to by into the fair and balanced nonsense. Fox is a lie.

    September 16, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Pot, kettle, black ...

    September 16, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Not surprised

    Fox News takes offense to using an interview to make it look like they support a candidate that they support? Oh the horror!

    September 16, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. carlos

    there it is, the roy blunt who does not give a hoot or cares for anyone in the middle class, no different from ALL the repugnants , vote for any of them and count your days because your tomorrow is not guaranteed

    September 16, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Beerman

    How blatant can Fox get before they just change their name to the 24 hour GOP propaganda station?

    This is a "news agency" that's suing over the alleged intellectual property of a 'news' related interview. They're suing a democrat for even using them as a source. Doesn't that strike anyone as odd?

    September 16, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. are u serious

    What a joke! fox should be getting sued by everyone in this entire country and world for all of their lies and hate! give me a break...put me on that jury, i'll have Ms. Carnahan's back!

    September 16, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Dave

    But it is alright for Fox News to twist a former interview with Toby Keith and make it look like Toby was speaking with Ms Palin.
    The hypocrisy of the republican party and their mouth piece is sickening.

    September 16, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. KatieDid

    Oh pleeeeeease! Honestly, FauxNews does the same thing ALL THE TIME. May I mention, Shirly Sherod, Acorn, and many, many others that FAUXNews has smeared over however many YEARS they have been on the air.

    FAUX News is just that FAKE NEWS..

    September 16, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Lucullus

    These arrogant clowns have just screwed themselves. All Carnahan's lawyers have to do is show that Faux News is nothing more than an extension of the GOP, which is easily done, and the case will be thrown out. On top of that it will be proven to all just what a fraud these people are

    September 16, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. a health economist

    While I agree with Fox's stance on this to a point (I just threw up a little in my mouth while typing this), finding in favor of Fox would have some really big repercussions.

    For instance, let's take a *hypothetic* scenario in which Fox News fabricated a story by splicing old footage with new footage to support a false claim. Any news organization reporting on this and using Fox's fabricated footage in this *hypothetical* scenario could then be sued by Fox for improper use of its property.

    September 16, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Ben

    Funny, when Harry Reid used some footage from local news shows to that seemed to negatively portray his opponent, the news programs responded by saying that although they wish he wouldn't use the clips, fair use laws stated that he had every right to do so and that they could do nothing to stop him. It seems like fox news should fall under the same guidelines, and that basically any interview with a specific candidate should be expected to be scrutinized by the opposition, and will be used in any way the candidate can. If Roy Blunt had used a clip of himself being interviewed on fox news, would fox be just as angry?

    September 16, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. Marcus

    The invasion of privacy claim is dubious, the copyright infringement not. If proved, then Carnahan should pay the price.

    September 16, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. water bearer

    "Wallace– a trusted journalist"

    Ha-ha-ha-ha! That's rich!

    How can it be an "invasion of Wallace's privacy" when it was an interview that ran on cable news (or non-news as the case may be)? Fox-we-make-it-up-as-we-go-along News needs to be shut down. They're a disgrace!

    September 16, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Dennis TheBald

    Fox's Chris Wallace a trusted journalist? Good luck making that case in court.

    September 16, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Jeff in TX

    Fascinating stuff. FOX (and other networks, let's get real), excerpts items frequently with little "alternate-side" argument, and that is considered acceptable, even "fair and balanced."

    September 16, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Readbetweenthelines

    Fox News breads morons. The media in America is terrible and Roger Ailes has been leading the way ever since he made Fox News a blow horn for GOP talking point. Pathetic!

    September 16, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. SayWhat

    "...the Democrat's campaign was accused of violating "FNC's valuable and proprietary creative expression."

    And I thought that Fox just impartially reported the news.

    September 16, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. Big George in Big D

    Go get her FOX!! I'm tired of people not believing Fox News is not truthful. If all you leftwingnuts would watch a little more of it, you'd find out!

    September 16, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. alan saint louis

    If a rethuglican used a clip off fox news for there benefit would they sue the rethuglican. absolutely NOT lol and they call them selves fair and balance. Yea right lol. Fox news stands for fascist news net work lol

    September 16, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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