Fox News host Jeanine Pirro has scored a courtroom victory over Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, whose defamation lawsuit against Pirro has been dismissed.
During a 2017 broadcast about injuries suffered by a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officer, Pirro said that McKesson “was directing” violence against the officer. McKesson then sued.
According to his decision, New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert Kalish, sitting in Manhattan, said Pirro had the right to express her opinion.
In his ruling, he said Pirro’s own lawyer labeled her style “loud, caustic and hard hitting.”
“Pirro’s lack of temperament, and caustic commentary is what she is known, celebrated and frequently criticized for,” Kalish wrote.
“However divisive one might find the subject two-minute sequence, the law of this state protects the expressions of opinion it represents,” he ruled.
Further, Kalish wrote that much of what Pirro said was based on a lawsuit filed by the injured officer, who has sued McKesson.
“(T)his Court finds that Pirro’s statement’s describing the (lawsuit) qualify as a substantially accurate report of a judicial proceeding and therefore are absolutely privileged from liability for defamation,” the ruling said.
Kalish also said that taken as a whole, Pirro did nothing for which she could be sued, although some of her statements were not fully accurate.
“Moreover, although the statement that the plaintiff-officer ‘was injured at the direction of DeRay Mckesson’ may cause a reader to believe such if it is read in isolation, viewing the entire video sequence as a whole it is clear that Pirro is expressing her opinion that the plaintiff-officer should be allowed to pursue his civil complain against Mckesson on the theory that Mckesson may be held liable for the violent events that occurred during a demonstration that he allegedly led considering the allegations of the plaintiff-officer,” Kalish ruled.
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Kalish wanted to be sure his opinion was not read as an endorsement of Pirro.
“That the Court find’s Pirro statement’s to be protected statements of opinion does not mean this Court agrees with Pirro’s opinions or condones her behavior or rhetoric. This Court is not blind to the undertones in this segment,” Kalish wrote.
Kalish had revealed he was no fan of Pirro’s last year during a hearing on the case, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“She was a judge. She was a former district attorney,” Kalish said then. “You’d think she’d understand what we are dealing with. … You’d think she would give a very clear and accurate statement. You’d think she’d know better.”
McKesson, who calls himself a “leading voice of the Black Lives Matter movement, greeted the news of the dismissal of the case with a jab at Pirro.
“I’m obviously disappointed. But as Fox argued and the judge recognized, when you have a certain reputation, less is expected of you,” McKesson said, according to the New York Daily News reported.
In his ruling, Kalish noted Pirro had been suspended by Fox News, which had “no bearing” on the case.
Pirro was suspended by Fox after comments she made about Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.
She has missed the last two shows. Fox has not said if she will return on Saturday.
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