A federal judge on Thursday tossed a lawsuit filed by former Playboy model Karen McDougal that claimed she was defamed by Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s comments about her alleged affair with Donald Trump in 2006.
Carlson had accused McDougal of shaking down Trump for $150,000 in exchange for her silence about an alleged 10-month affair that began in 2006…just one year after he married Melania Trump.
U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil granted Fox News’ motion to dismiss McDougal’s claim on the ground’s that the comments were not statements of fact.
“As Defendant notes, Mr. Carlson himself aims to ‘challenge political correctness and media bias,’” the judge wrote in her decision. “This ‘general tenor’ of the show should then inform a viewer that he is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal’ commentary.”
She added, “This overheated rhetoric is precisely the kind of pitched commentary that one expects when tuning in to talk shows like ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight.’”
Judge Vyskocil wrote that McDougal as a public figure had also failed to prove that Carlson acted with actual malice.
SDNY Judge Vyskocil tosses Playboy model Karen McDougal's defamation suit against Fox News over alleged slander by Tucker Carlson. pic.twitter.com/2yqwLPsOyC
— JOSH RUSSELL (@jruss_jruss) September 24, 2020
McDougal’s defamation suit stemmed from statements Carlson made shortly before Michael Cohen’s sentencing for making hush-money payments to her and another alleged Trump paramour, porn star Stormy Daniels.
“Remember the facts of the story,” he said Dec. 10, 2018. “These are undisputed. Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money. Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion.”
McDougal entered the national spotlight in 2016 when the Wall Street Journal reported that she’d had an affair with Trump, and that the National Enquirer had paid her for the exclusive rights to her story, which they never ran.
McDougal claims she and Trump met at the Playboy Mansion in 2006 and that they began a 10-month affair that ended when she felt guilty about Trump cheating on his wife. The president denied the affair.
Before the 2016 presidential election, the National Enquirer purchased the rights to McDougal’s story for $150,000 but did not publish it. She was restricted from discussing the alleged affair until she came to a settlement agreement with American Media in April 2018.