A prominent disinformation researcher who became the target of Fox News last year filed a defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network on Wednesday, accusing it of a “malicious campaign of destruction” and adding to the channel’s growing legal problems.
The researcher, Nina Jankowicz, briefly served in the Biden administration as head of the now-defunct Disinformation Governance Board, which was housed in the Department of Homeland Security. The advisory board, which had no real authority, was tasked with countering misinformation.
“Over the course of eight months in 2022, Fox talked about Jankowicz more than 300 times,” said the lawsuit, which was filed in Delaware state court. “Across its broadcast and online publications, Fox’s employee hosts and commentators derided and lied about Jankowicz on repeat—and continue to do so even today.”
Specifically, Jankowicz alleged in her lawsuit that Fox News defamed her by falsely asserting she had been fired from the board and that she “intended to censor Americans’ speech.” The lawsuit alleged that the coverage “led to violent threats against her.”
“None of Fox’s false claims about Jankowicz were the product of honest mistakes in its reporting,” the lawsuit said. “Rather, Fox intentionally trafficked in malicious falsehoods to pad its profits at the expense of Jankowicz’s safety, reputation, and well-being.”
Rylee Sommers-Flanagan, an attorney for Jankowicz, said in a statement that her client “is a disinformation expert who fell prey to disinformation peddled by the Fox News Channel.
“Fox’s obsessive defamation of Nina’s character and professionalism unleashed a torrent of abuse which has caused her irreparable harm both personally and professionally,” she said. “We look forward to litigating this case in Delaware and to sending a strong message on behalf of millions of sane Americans that no one – not even Fox News – is shielded from the consequences of knowingly peddling lies.”
Representatives for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of high-profile defamation cases brought against Fox News in recent years.
The network last month settled a lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million, the largest publicly known settlement in US history.
Just weeks before, Fox News settled a lawsuit with a Venezuelan businessman who had sued the company over its election lies.
Fox News is also facing a monster $2.7 billion lawsuit from the voting technology company Smartmatic.
Smartmatic’s case survived a motion to dismiss filed by Fox News last year and continues to move through the court system. The company recently subpoenaed Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Fox News has denied wrongdoing in the Smartmatic case and has said it is “proud” of its 2020 election coverage, which included the promotion of conspiracy theories.
Lachlan Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox Corporation, the parent company of the right-wing channel Fox News, said on Tuesday that the company will fight Smartmatic’s lawsuit.
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