The election may be in the bag, but a lawsuit filed by Fox News against former Senate candidate Robin Carnahan (D-MO) for using their footage in a campaign ad hasn’t wrapped up yet.
Fox News on Monday requested that clerk in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Missouri enter a default judgment against Robin Carnahan for Senate, Inc. “on the ground that it has failed to answer or otherwise defend against the amended complaint in this action… within the time period prescribed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”A lawyer for the Carnahan campaign told TPM he couldn’t comment.
Copyright experts told TPM that Fox News’ decision to sue the campaign was a dramatic step for a case that would normally be settled on YouTube. A lawyer for Carnahan said Fox News was “attempting to use intellectual property and Missouri tort laws to stifle core political speech in the heat of this election season.”
Carnahan was defeated by Rep. Roy Blunt (R), who will fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Kit Bond.
On Nov. 17, Judge Gary A. Fenner of the United States District Court in the Western District of Missouri denied a request to dismiss the suit against Carnahan. He ruled that because the Carnahan campaign’s motion to dismiss referred to inaccuracies in the original complaint (which had since been amended) the motion should itself be dismissed.
The original suit by Fox News labeled the Carnahan ad a “smear ad against political rival Roy Blunt.” It was filed on behalf of the network as well as network anchor Chris Wallace. The ad showed Wallace questioning Blunt about his ties to the Phillip Morris and former lobbyists Jack Abramoff. “Are you the one to clean up the House?” Wallace asked in the clip.
Fox lawyers argued that the campaign’s use of a clip from Wallace’s 2006 interview with Blunt made it look as though the network was endorsing Carnahan.