A federal judge on Thursday morning dismissed the defamation lawsuit ex-Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal filed against Fox News over on-air comments made by host Tucker Carlson, stating Carlson’s remarks represented “rhetorical hyperbole and opinion commentary.” McDougal, who was paid $150,000 in a “catch and kill” scheme to stay quiet about her affair with Donald Trump during the 2016 election, claimed Carlson falsely accused her of extortion.
During a December 2018 segment, the Fox News star called the Enquirer’s payment to McDougal “ransom” and said her actions sounded “like a classic case of extortion.” In her motion to dismiss, U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil—a Trump appointee—said McDougal did not “raise a plausible inference of actual malice to sustain her defamation claim.”
“Karen McDougal’s lawsuit attempted to silence spirited opinion commentary on matters of public concern,” a Fox News Media spokesperson said in a statement. “The court today held that the First Amendment plainly prohibits such efforts to stifle free speech. The decision is a victory not just for FOX News Media, but for all defenders of the First Amendment.”