U.S. District Judge Mary Vyskocil dismissed Karen McDougal’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Thursday. McDougal sued last year after Carlson compared her accusations of an affair with President Donald Trump to “extortion,” but the judge held that his comments amounted to hyperbole.
A Fox News spokesperson said Thursday, “Karen McDougal‘s lawsuit attempted to silence spirited opinion commentary on matters of public concern. The court today held that the First Amendment plainly prohibits such efforts to stifle free speech. The decision is a victory not just for FOX News Media, but for all defenders of the First Amendment.”
A lawyer for McDougal did not immediately return a request for comment.
McDougal, a former Playboy playmate who was famously paid by the National Enquirer not to speak elsewhere about her accusations of an affair with Trump, sued the network in December 2019.
The primetime host compared her situation to “extortion” on Dec. 10, 2018, referencing her and adult film star Stormy Daniels, who similarly made claims of an affair with Trump: “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’s lawsuit, filed in New York, said all of Carlson’s statements about McDougal were “untrue,” but took particular issue with his framing them as “undisputed” facts on a show he advertises as the “sworn enemy of the lying.” The suit said McDougal never approached Trump and threatened him for money.