Despite the apparent glee with which CNN reported on an intended lawsuit to be filed against Fox News by the City of Paris, even the network, which is regularly trounced by its competitor, had to admit that the French city had no case against the American media company. On what grounds does Paris intend to file? On several segments following the Charlie Hebdo and kosher market attacks, guests on Fox News and anchors described “no-go” areas where police are afraid to enter, thus leaving the areas unpoliced and out of control. Anchors later apologized for those portions of the segment, but that wasn’t enough for the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who gave this interview to Fox’s competitor CNN:
CNN Money explained the likelihood of such a suit succeeding,
“A claim like this would never succeed in a United States court because there’s no such thing as defamation” of a municipality, said Jeff Hermes of the Media Law Resource Center. (MLRC is nonprofit organization of media outlets; Fox News is a member.)
It’s a precedent that was established nearly 100 years ago, when the city of Chicago sued the Chicago Tribune over a series of critical editorials. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled citizens had nearly free range to criticize their government.
So in this case, Paris would be left to pursue a suit in a French court. That’s also problematic: Fox News has limited presence there, leaving the justice system with limited leverage over the company.
Also, U.S. law gives media outlets special protections against the decisions of foreign courts.
Despite the fact that the lawsuit is doomed for failure and anchors have already made apologizes for statements made during hours of highly sympathetic coverage for the citizens of Paris, the Mayor remains determined to forge ahead with its lawsuit. The Obama White House is unlikely to try to smooth over the hard feelings, as it is also known for taking swipes at the network, and did so as recently as Tuesday night.
The Obama administration set off outrage around the world after refusing to show up for the Paris rally for unity. Afterwards, Secretary of State John Kerry brought along James Taylor for a good old fashioned sing along, to the tone of “You’ve Got a Friend.” Maybe this lawsuit, designed to embarrass the American network, is France’s way of saying that the U.S. has a friend in France as well.
Do you think the Obama administration encouraged this lawsuit against Fox News?