Fox News host Eric Bolling is suing freelance journalist Yashar Ali, who reported last week that Bolling sent lewd text messages to female colleagues. Bolling is seeking $50 million in damages over the story that led to his suspension from the network.
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
Ali’s story for HuffPost cited 14 sources and alleged that Bolling had sent an inappropriate and unsolicited photo to at least three colleagues. Less than 24 hours after its publication, Fox News suspended Bolling pending the results of an internal investigation. Bolling denied the allegations.
Bolling’s suit, as Ali noted, does not name HuffPost, an entity that could conceivably pay the damages that Bolling seeks. In the sort of response any freelancer would appreciate, HuffPost Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen tweeted, “Yashar Ali is a careful and meticulous reporter. We stand by his reporting.” She followed up to clarify that HuffPost would also be supporting Ali in his legal battle: “Yashar Ali is a paid freelancer under contract with HuffPost. We have no hesitation about standing by him financially in this case.”
The allegations against Bolling are the latest in a series of troubling reports about the culture at Fox News. Last summer the network’s founder, Roger Ailes, was forced from his leadership position after former anchor Gretchen Carlson accused him of sexual harassment. In April, Bill O’Reilly was ousted after The New York Times reported that he had been accused by five women of sexual misconduct or other inappropriate behavior. Last month, Fox Business Network host Charles Payne was suspended after being accused him of sexual harassment. All of the men denied the charges against them.
Below, more on Bolling, Ali’s reporting, and the state of Fox News.
- Scandal amidst financial success: The New York Times’s Emily Steel, whose reporting initiated O’Reilly’s departure, has an overview of Bolling’s lawsuit, along with some context on Fox’s financial reports.
- Murdoch’s expansion delayed: The BBC reports that 21st Century Fox’s proposed takeover of British broadcaster Sky will face a “wider review,” and won’t be approved by regulators until at least 2018.
- Fox’s dominance no longer assured: The Associated Press’s David Bauder looks at MSNBC’s ratings surge since Trump took office. Fox still has the most viewers, but the gap has narrowed.
- Refresher on Fox’s year: After O’Reilly was forced out, The New York Times summarized a period that shook the cable giant.
Other notable stories
- The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple takes The New York Times to task for a big mistake in its recent climate change story. Wemple writes: “Given the magnitude of the screw-up, [the correction] should sit atop the story, surrounded by red flashing lights and perhaps an audio track to instruct readers: Warning: This story once peddled a faulty and damaging premise.”
- For CJR, Mario Garcia looks at how Trump’s “fire and fury” comments about North Korea played on front pages around the world.
- BuzzFeed sent a bunch of supplements from Alex Jones’s Infowars store to a lab to test their contents. The result: “they’re little more than overpriced and ineffective blends of vitamins and minerals that have been sold in stores for ages.”
- In the face of mounting legal trouble, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed “fake news” for damaging reports that threaten his administration, Bloomberg’s David Wainer reports.
- An impressive dedication of time and resources from the Raleigh News & Observer went into this five-part series on inmate deaths in North Carolina county jails.
- The exodus of journalists from Politico’s media reporting team continues, with Hadas Gold heading to CNN.
- The most fun story of the week: The New York Times’s Sopan Deb was there on Tuesday night when Bill Murray attended Groundhog Day, the Broadway musical based on Murray’s 1993 movie. Then, yesterday, Murray did it all over again.