If Paris Sues Fox News For Its "No-Go Zones" Comments, Would Paris Even Have A Case?
Despite my reluctance, I have to concede that Fox News' continued existence in spite of its business model of running its mouth is impressive, because I guess they've managed to find a way to not only "report" the news, but be in the news — and have their reputation take hit after hit for the many ignorant, inflammatory statements its anchors make, yet stay in business. But could its latest idiocy prove its demise? On Tuesday, Mayor Anne Hidalgo told CNN that Paris will sue Fox News for reporting "no-go zones" in Europe that — surprise, surprise — was so inaccurate that it turned into an international embarrassment for the channel.
Hidalgo, in an interview on CNN with Christiane Amanpour, said that Fox News had "insulted" her city, and that obviously, no French capital will take lying down the drivel that an American news channel tries to pass as facts. She told Amanpour:
When we're insulted, and when we've had an image, then I think we'll have to sue, I think we'll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed. The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.
When Amanpour asked Hidalgo which network, exactly, she planned to take to court, the Parisian mayor said, decisively:
Fox News. That's the name.
But before rejoicing in what could maybe mark the beginning of an end of this inglorious network, how legitimate is this lawsuit threat, really? Would the taxpayers of Paris be willing to spend money on suing a frivolous — albeit notably influential — foreign entity? U.S. courts traditionally require plaintiffs to prove intent of "actual malice" in cases involving public figures, something that very few have managed to do.
U.S. law is set up this way because matters involving public figures or officials are of public interest, and therefore subject to intense scrutiny. Even though Fox News aimed its comment at areas in Paris, rather than individuals, it seems that in this particular context, Hidalgo and her officials would still shoulder the burden of proof of actual malice in Steven Emerson's asinine statement that parts of Paris and Birmingham, England were "controlled by Muslims" and subject to Sharia law.
"Actual malice" is so difficult to prove because the plaintiff would have to show that Emerson's remark was made knowingly falsely or in reckless disregard of the truth. For all we know, the self-proclaimed "terrorism expert" could have sincerely took what he was saying as the gospel truth, and only realized how horrifyingly erroneous his statement was after being soundly derided across the Atlantic Ocean — by French media outlets and even the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who declared Emerson "a complete idiot."
So while Paris might not actually pursue the lawsuit, perhaps the threat might serve as an overdue awakening for Fox News anchors to tone down its incendiary, baseless proclamations once and for all.
Image: CNN/Screenshot (2)