Eric Bolling, the suspended co-host of The Fox News Specialists, says he is suing the reporter whose story about “lewd text messages” led to Bolling’s suspension.
Bolling is suing Yashar Ali, a contributing writer for HuffPost (formerly the Huffington Post) who broke the story of Bolling sending unsolicited lewd text messages to at least three different female colleagues at Fox Business and Fox News.
Ali tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that he had received a summons in a defamation lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages.
Just received a summons. Eric Bolling is suing me for defamation - $50 million in damages. I stand by my reporting + will protect my sources— Yashar Ali (@yashar) August 9, 2017
Lydia Polgreen, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, tweeted out Ali’s story after news broke of the lawsuit, emphasizing that the story had 14 sources, something other journalists had also noted on twitter.
Ali’s article, based on anonymous sources inside and outside Fox News and Fox Business, said that Bolling had several years ago sent messages with photos of male genitalia to at least three of his colleagues who had not solicited such messages.
Bolling’s attorney, Michael J. Bowe, commented in the article that, “Mr. Bolling recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made.”
As Vox’s Zeeshan Aleem wrote about the story, “The language isn’t an outright denial, but a description of what Bowe claims he can remember; it appears to leave open the possibility that he could admit to sending the messages.”
Bolling’s comments are not dissimilar to President Donald Trump’s unfulfilled threats to sue the New York Times for defamation after a series of stories about allegations of sexual assault against the then-candidate, whose lawyers said at the time, they would be left “no option but to pursue all available actions and remedies.”
After Trump’s threats, Vox’s Tara Golshan discussed libel with several media law experts who pointed out that Trump would’ve had a difficult time proving libel as a public figure, something Bolling, a media personality, presumably will face in his lawsuit as well:
It’s a lot harder for a public figure to claim defamation, because not only would Trump have to prove these allegations are false, but he would also have to prove that they were done with “actual malice,” meaning that the New York Times published the article knowing it was false, or with reckless disregard for the truth
Interestingly, in this case, Bolling is seeking damages from Ali specifically and not HuffPost. CNN’s Nathan McDermott pointed out that this is odd given that, “theoretically” the company could afford to pay Bolling if he won the suit.
Should be noted the story had FOURTEEN sources and Bolling isn't suing HuffPost, the publisher that could theoretically pay $50 million https://t.co/2EhBYWXqXk— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) August 9, 2017
Ali doesn’t appear too concerned about the suit, tweeting that people shouldn’t donate to him but to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
On Thursday, he tweeted a story from Law Newz that characterized the suit as “total PR stunt.”