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Another defamation suit filed against Fox News — this one over Jan. 6 allegations

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A former U.S. Marine is the latest person to sue Fox News for going beyond the news into defamation. NPR's David Folkenflik reports.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Ray Epps considered himself an avid Fox News viewer, a two-time voter for former President Donald Trump, a fan of former Fox prime-time star Tucker Carlson. According to his attorney, Epps believed the lies on Fox that Trump was cheated in 2020 and attended the rally protesting that election certification. And then Fox lied about him.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT")

TUCKER CARLSON: If you really wanted to figure out what happened on January 6, Peter Navarro would be the last person you would talk to. Instead, you'd be talking to Ray Epps and various FBI informants.

FOLKENFLIK: That's Carlson. For more than two years, Carlson drew on material from extreme right-wing conspiracy sites to suggest Epps instigated the violence and was prompted to do so by the FBI or some other federal agency. Here's Carlson on Epps in January, 2022.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT")

CARLSON: He urged protesters to riot. Video from January 6 shows him at the forefront, right in front of the Capitol, appearing to usher others inside. So he wasn't just someone who was there, he was maybe the central figure there.

FOLKENFLIK: There's no proof anything Carlson says there is true other than that Epps was present. Fox and Carlson did not respond to NPR's requests for comment. Epps' attorney, Michael Teter, tells NPR that Epps and his wife sold their home in Arizona to flee abusive Trump fans. Teter alleges Fox allowed Carlson to target Epps to deflect attention from its own actions angering pro-Trump viewers. On election night 2020, Fox was the first TV network to project Democrat Joe Biden would win the pivotal state of Arizona. In April, on the eve of a jury trial, Fox paid $787 million to settle defamation charges filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which had figured prominently in elections conspiracy theories peddled on Fox. The network pushed Carlson off the air just days later. Another multibillion-dollar defamation suit from a second voting tech company looms.

David Folkenflik, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF HIP HOP BEAT NATION'S "GOLDEN AGE TRAIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.