Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate who has alleged she had an affair with President Donald Trump in 2006, is suing Fox News for defamation. In the lawsuit that was filed in New York on Thursday, McDougal claims that Fox News host Tucker Carlson falsely accused her of extortion during a December 2018 segment in which he said she threatened to ruin Trump’s career and “humiliate his family” if he didn’t give her money. Prior to the 2016 election, The National Enquirer bought the rights to McDougal’s story for $150,000 and then didn’t publish it in a tactic known as “catch and kill.” McDougal would then be legally restricted from talking about the alleged affair until April 2018 when she reached a settlement with the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc.
In his segment last year, Carlson called the Enquirer’s payment to McDougal “ransom” while claiming her actions sound “like a classic case of extortion.” Carlson did not specifically say McDougal’s name but did display her photo throughout. “Fox News will vigorously defend Tucker Carlson against these meritless claims,” a Fox News spokesperson told the Daily Beast in response to the lawsuit.