Fox News host Jeanine Pirro smeared Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson by claiming he directed violence against a Baton Rouge police officer in 2016, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The defamation case Mckesson filed in Manhattan Supreme Court stems from Pirro’s commentary about a protest over the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man, on July 5, 2016. Mckesson, 32, had attended a protest over the shooting and was arrested, but charges against him were dismissed — and he and about 185 other protesters later settled a suit against the Baton Rouge police for $136,000.
An anonymous police officer filed a separate suit, alleging he was hit in the face by a rock a protester threw. The protester, the cop said, was incited by Mckesson. The cop named Mckesson and “Black Lives Matter” as defendants.
On Sept. 28, a federal judge in Louisiana tossed the officer’s suit, ruling that Black Lives Matter was a social movement that could not be sued. The judge also ruled the cop failed to explain how Mckesson allegedly incited the violence.
“In this particular case, Deray Mckesson, the organizer, actually was directing people, was directing the violence,” Pirro said on “Fox and Friends” after the judge had ruled.
“You’ve got a police officer who was injured, he was injured at the direction of DeRay Mckesson, DeRay Mckesson walks away with a hundred thousand dollars, for an organization that is amorphous, we got a problem in this country.”
Mckesson said Pirro’s comments have endangered his safety and seeks damages to be determined at trial.
“I was found not guilty & I didn’t direct any violence. In fact, I was protesting the violence of the police. Stop lying,” he tweeted at Pirro.
Pirro has said on Twitter she was relying on paragraphs from the cop’s lawsuit during her appearance. But Mckesson says she wrongly described them as “facts.”
“Pirro made these false statements of fact on the highest viewed morning cable show in the country, ‘Fox & Friends,’ which reaches over 1.7 million viewers,” Mckesson’s suit reads. “These statements of fact are false, and were either known to be false by Defendant Pirro or were made with reckless disregard for whether they were true.”
Fox News said it will fight the suit.
“We informed Mr. McKesson’s counsel that our commentary was fully protected under the First Amendment and the privilege for reports of judicial proceedings,” the network said.
A Washington Post column described the “Fox & Friends” segment as “a remarkably efficient instance of the sort of race-baiting that’s all too common on Fox News’ opinion shows.”
Pirro, 66, served three terms as Westchester County district attorney after serving three years as a county judge. Last weekend on her show, “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” she called for a “cleansing” of FBI and Department of Justice officials investigating President Trump.
Last month, the Daily News reported that Pirro had been arrested upstate for driving 119 mph in a 65 mph zone.