Fox News Faces Another Lawsuit Over Conspiracy Theory
Fox News has repeatedly been accused of reporting falsehoods in relation to Trump’s election defeat, a fact acknowledged by owner Murdoch himself. Now, the right-wing US network has been sued once again.
Who is Ray Epps? Prior to the storming of the Capitol in January 2021, hardly anyone in the US could answer that question. However, after the event, viewers of Fox News – specifically the show hosted by star anchor Tucker Carlson – quickly became familiar with the name.
Carlson claimed that Epps could be seen in video footage of the Capitol riot, alleging that he incited violence, crimes, and the breach of the parliamentary building. To some extent, this was true: Epps, a Trump supporter, had indeed traveled from Arizona to Washington on January 6th. He firmly believed that the former US President Donald Trump had been robbed of the election and that the certification of a fraudulent election result needed to be prevented. Epps, a former member of the far-right “Oath Keepers” militia, was a true believer.
Debunked right-wing myth
However, Fox News, and Carlson in particular, claimed that Epps was something else entirely: an undercover agent sent by the FBI to provoke the insurrection. This right-wing myth has long been debunked by the Capitol riot investigation committee.
“Are you aware that Ray Epps was a government secret agent?” FBI Director Christopher Wray was asked during a congressional hearing this week. “No,” replied the FBI chief. The idea that the violence on January 6th was somehow part of an operation organized by the federal police was ridiculous.
Epps had to relocate
Now, a lawsuit has been filed in a Delaware court: Epps’ lawyer, Michael Teter, described to CNN the consequences of the Fox conspiracy theory for his client. Immediately after Carlson began his defamation, Epps and his wife received death threats. Fearful for their safety, the couple sold their house in Arizona and moved to Ohio, to an undisclosed location.
If the lawsuit is allowed to proceed, the trial may also shed light on what motivated Carlson, who has since been fired by Fox News, and the network to launch the campaign.
Suing for damages
“Carlson is obsessed with me. He is trying everything to destroy my life,” Epps said in an interview with CBS. “But why? To distract from the true culprits,” Epps added. He is referring to Trump and the Republican Party, the majority of which perpetuates the false claim of a stolen election.
The potential trial will likely focus more on the issue of damages and compensation rather than the political implications. Epps has sued the network for damages and emotional distress.