You remember Karen McDougal, right? The former Playboy model who cashed in on an alleged affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and sold her story to the National Enquirer just before the 2016 election is back in the news today. She’s suing Fox News Channel for defamation over remarks Tucker Carlson made on his primetime television show.
The National Enquirer didn’t publish her story but instead used a practice known as “catch and kill”. The tabloid got the story and then killed it. You may remember that David Pecker, the publisher, at the time was a friend of Trump. McDougal was paid $150,000 for her story. In 2018, Pecker was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in their investigation into Michael Cohen. Pecker paid McDougal the money with the agreement that he would be reimbursed by Trump. That’s where Cohen came in, as Trump’s personal attorney.
Later, after the National Enquirer hadn’t published her story, McDougal negotiated a deal with AMI, the Enquirer’s parent company, that allowed her to negate her deal of remaining quiet. She was promised a cover of Men’s Journal, a cover story, and given the opportunity to write several columns for that publication. AMI maintains a 10 percent financial interest in McDougal’s life story rights, up to $75,000.
In December 2018, Tucker Carlson said that the “facts are undisputed” about McDougal’s story – that she and another woman (Stormy Daniels) came forward to accuse Trump of having affairs with them in a demand for money.
In December of last year, Carlson said that the “facts are undisputed” that McDougal and another woman who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, Stormy Daniels, “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.”
Carlson added, “Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion.”
That’s the word McDougal has a problem with – extortion. I do wonder what she would call her actions, though, if she’s insulted by that one. Her attorney says that since the word “extortion” wasn’t used against her at the time of her payment, then it’s not allowed to be used now. Or something. And, if she was so aggrieved by Tucker Carlson’s statement, why did it take her so long to file a lawsuit?
In her lawsuit, McDougal’s attorney Eric Bernstein wrote, “Carlson asserted several ‘facts’ regarding McDougal which are demonstrably false,” the lawsuit stated. “Indeed, every individual involved in the payment that Trump caused to be made to McDougal never once stated that she extorted Trump or otherwise committed any crime or unlawful act whatsoever.”
Bernstein added in the lawsuit, “This statement is completely untrue and was made knowing it was untrue and with reckless disregard for the truth.”
Her lawsuit claims that “every individual involved in this transaction never once mentioned, implied or otherwise indicated that McDougal extorted Trump.” Carlson, the lawsuit claims, apparently failed to speak with Trump, Pecker, Cohen, AMI, or McDougal as to why or under what circumstances Trump caused McDougal to be paid $150,000 prior to making the aforementioned statements on the show.”
You can read the lawsuit for yourself HERE.
A network spokesperson said that Tucker Carlson will be defended “vigorously” against the “meritless claims”. I have no doubt that is true. Carlson’s primetime opinion show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, on FNC consistently is a top show in the ratings. Since Carlson is not being sued himself, the lawsuit is against the cable news network, it’s pretty clear which deep pockets are being hit. The complaint was filed in New York state court.
The remarks made by Carlson, if you are interested in the timing of them, had to do with tying in the president’s “cave” to McDougal with the payment and the politics of the day.
“Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. Oh, but you’re not a federal prosecutor on a political mission. If you were a federal prosecutor on a political mission, you would construe those extortion payments as campaign contributions.”
McDougal seeks unspecified general and punitive damages. It looks like she’s doing some double-dipping over this story. We’ll see how far she gets this time. Her timing now, with the 2020 election on the horizon, isn’t coincidental, if you ask me.