Fox already shelled out $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit to avoid further interrogation into its ranks—and now it’s being sued for defamation once again.
Ray Epps, a Trump supporter who has been bizarrely propped up by conspiracy theorists as being the leader of an FBI plot to incite the January 6 insurrection, filed a lawsuit against Fox on Wednesday, accusing the company and former host Tucker Carlson of defamation.
Figureheads on the right—including Carlson—have long been propagating the unfounded notion that the January 6 attack was essentially an “op” put on by federal agencies. Epps has been a central victim to the conspiracy.
The two-time Trump voter did take part in demonstrations in the nation’s capital on January 5 and 6. He was even seen on camera urging a crowd to march and enter the Capitol with him, though he apparently never got inside. At other points, he was seen urging for calm as things turned violent. Not the kind of behavior of someone looking to cleanly incite and entrap rioters.
Nevertheless, Epps has become a target in the years since. On numerous occasions, Carlson whipped up the focus on Epps, directing the ire of his millions of viewers to the Arizona man.
“Fox’s lies about Epps reached hundreds of millions of people and caused enormous harm to Epps,” the lawsuit reads, accusing Fox of running a “years-long campaign spreading falsehoods” about Epps that “destroyed” his life.
Epps is described as a formerly “avid and loyal Fox viewer and fan of Mr. Carlson’s,” whose presence at the January 6 attack at all was inspired “by the lies broadcast by Fox asserting the election had been stolen.”
The conspiracy theory has become popular among Republican lawmakers, some of whom even cited it in a House judiciary hearing just hours before the lawsuit was announced.
The new lawsuit follows Fox’s whopping $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, after the network was sued for its lies surrounding the 2020 election and voting systems like Dominion’s. It also comes after the network also reached a $12 million settlement with former producer Abby Grossberg, who accused Fox of hosting a workplace environment rife with discrimination and rampant sexism, and of coercing her into providing false testimony in the Dominion case.
Meanwhile, the network still faces a gargantuan $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic USA, another voting systems company that alleges Fox made “over 100 false statements and implications about the company.”
“Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,” Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said in April. “Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”