Ray Epps, a Trump supporter who became the focus of right-wing conspiracy theories after protesting in Washington on January 6, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and former host Tucker Carlson for claiming he was an undercover agent. of the FBI who helped spark the riot at the Capitol.
In his lawsuitEpps accuses Fox News of telling a «fantastic story» that he acted as a government-sponsored instigator of the violence that ensued when Congress tried to count electoral votes to certify Joe Biden’s victory.
The lawsuit, which seeks punitive and compensatory damages to be determined at trial, argues that Carlson launched a «years-long campaign» spreading falsehoods that «destroyed» the lives of Epps and his wife, who now reside in Utah but used to live in Arizona. at that moment.
“Fox and Mr. Carlson made Epps the central figure in a lie they concocted around January 6, 2021. After destroying Epps’s reputation and livelihood, Fox will move on to the next story, while Ray and Robyn They live in a 350 square foot trailer. and face the harassment and fear actual harm,” the lawsuit says. «Fox must be held accountable.»
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Carlson’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, declined to comment.
According to the lawsuit, FBI investigators met with Epps in March 2021 and removed his photo from its wanted suspects website a few months later in July.
«That should have been the end of the matter for Epps,» but instead he was cast as a «villain,» the lawsuit says. He goes on to say that Carlson «noticed Epps,» dedicating «more than two dozen segments» to him.
The complaint alleges that Fox News repeatedly broadcast defamatory statements of Carlson and shared them on its websites, social media accounts, and subscription service platforms.
As a result, the lawsuit alleges, Epps received death threats that led him to quit his business and prompted the sale of his property and his relocation to a mobile home.
The complaint includes screenshots of what his lawyers said were threatening messages Epps received, as well as a photo of a bullet casing allegedly found on the couple’s property.
“The consequences for Ray and Robyn have been enormous. They lost their successful wedding business, had to sell their home they built for years, and suffered significant emotional and psychological damage from the attacks,» Epps’s attorney, Michael Teter, said in a statement Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed this week in Delaware state court and moved to federal court at the request of Fox News.
Teter previously asked Carlson, who was still with Fox at the time, to publicly retract his «false and defamatory statements» about Epps.
in a letter in marchTeter said Carlson «persists with his assault on the truth» by pushing false and «fanciful» ideas about Epps’ role in the attack on the Capitol.
Carlson was the host of «Tucker Carlson Tonight» on Fox News until April, when he was ousted from the network amid the fallout from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit.
Fox News agreed to a $787.5 million settlement with Dominion in April stemming from allegations that it had published and promoted the false claim that Dominion’s voting machines rigged the 2020 election.
Epps’s lawsuit says: «As Fox recently discovered in its litigation against Dominion Voting Systems, its lies have consequences.»
megan lebowitz contributed.