Fox News host Eric Bolling took the first legal step toward suing Huffington Post journalist Yashar Ali for $50 million over Ali’s report last week that he was accused of sending unsolicited, lewd text messages to female colleagues.
“Just received a summons. Eric Bolling is suing me for defamation – $50 million in damages. I stand by my reporting + will protect my sources,” Ali tweeted. “It’s important to note that Bolling’s summons does not include HuffPost – he is coming after me personally. I’m a big boy…but very telling.”
The “summons with notice” means Bolling can file a lawsuit later, and states that Ali must answer the summons within 20 days. It accuses Ali of “efforts to injure the plaintiff’s reputation through the intentional and/or highly reckless publication of actionable false and misleading statements about the plaintiff’s conduct and character.”
It also said Bolling was “substantially harmed” by the report. Fox News suspended Bolling as it investigates the accusations.
Ali’s report said that “a dozen sources” said that the messages were sent several years ago and the women found them “deeply upsetting and offensive.”
“Overwhelmed by all the support I have received,” Bolling tweeted Monday. “Thank you I look forward to clearing my name asap.”
Bolling’s lawyer, Michael Bowe, said that “The Specialists” host does not recall sending or believe he sent any inappropriate messages.
Bowe told CNNMoney on Saturday that “the anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair. We intend to fully cooperate with the investigation so that it can be concluded and Eric can return to work as quickly as possible.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.