Activist Deray McKesson (left) and pundit Jeanine Pirro (right). Images via screengrabs.
Activist DeRay McKesson is suing Fox News and pro-Trump pundit Jeanine Pirro for defamation over their portrayals of him as a violent ringleader in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The lawsuit, which was brought by a Baton Rouge police officer against both McKesson and BLM at large, was thrown out because McKesson was exercising free speech and a social movement like BLM cannot be litigated. McKesson asked Fox News to issue a retraction after Pirro’s inflammatory comments, but was told that the network was refusing his request because Pirro was reading from a judge’s order dismissing the lawsuit brought against the movement.
In his complaint, McKesson argues that contrary to the network’s characterization, Pirro “wasn’t quoting court documents and noted that the judge ruled against the officer.”
“Pirro’s statements are untrue and further a narrative that I, and other activists, engage in violent protest,” McKesson told the Sun. He remarked that other false statements about him have spurred death threats, including a 2015 threat that resulted in a theater being evacuated while he was attending a documentary screening.
McKesson argues in his suit that Pirro’s statements “are false, and were either known to be false by Defendant Pirro or were made with reckless disregard for whether they were true.”
Responding to the lawsuit, a Fox News spokeswoman said the network “will defend this case vigorously,” and that they consider Pirro’s statements an exercise of First Amendment-protected free speech.