Why is DeRay Mckesson suing Fox News and Jeanine Pirro? Mckesson is suing Fox News and one of the conservative news station’s anchors, alleging she and the station defamed him while discussing a lawsuit brought against the Black Lives Matter movement. According to a lawsuit filed in New York City on Tuesday, the openly gay civil rights activist claims Jeanine Pirro made false and defamatory statements when she alleged he directed other protesters to commit violence that resulted in a police officer getting hit in the face with a rock.
“Pirro’s statements are untrue and further a narrative that I, and other activists, engage in violent protest,” Mckesson said in message to The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday. “I take statements that portray untrue statements about me seriously.”
Pirro’s comments came during the Sept. 29, 2017, episode of Fox & Friends when moderators discussed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by an unnamed police officer injured during protests in Baton Rouge in July 2016. The protests were in response to the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a black man, by a white police officer.
During the morning news show, Pirro allegedly defamed Mckesson, saying he incited violence.
“And in this particular case, DeRay Mckesson, the organizer, actually was directing people, was directing the violence,” Pirro said.
The complaint says the statements made by Pirro “are false, and were either known to be false by Defendant Pirro or were made with reckless disregard for whether they were true.” The complaint said the statements have damaged Mckesson’s reputation and endangered his safety, and requests an unspecified amount in damages.
“Given the exposure made to an audience of 1.7 million people on the nature of DeRay’s work, the damage to his reputation is extremely significant,” said Mckesson’s attorney Matthew D. Melewski in an interview.
A spokeswoman for Fox News said Wednesday that Pirro’s statements are protected speech.