Fox News is once again under scrutiny for a lawsuit filed by former Biden administration disinformation chief Nina Jankowicz on Wednesday. Jankowicz claims Fox News hosts carried out a “malicious campaign of destruction” that continues to threaten her safety and harm her career.
Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson is cited in the complaint for falsely telling viewers that Jankowicz aimed to censor Americans’ speech and that she had been fired from her position. The complaint claims Carlson, along with hosts Maria Bartiromo and Sean Hannity told viewers that Jankowicz’s job was “to silence anyone who criticizes the Biden administration,” and Carlson warned she would “get men with guns to tell you to shut up.”
The lawsuit says Fox News’ claims hindered Jankowicz’s ability to live a normal life and resulted in her resignation from her position with the Biden administration to escape the seemingly endless criticism. Jankowicz briefly headed the Disinformation Governance Board which was created to monitor false information that would affect the government’s health and safety efforts and disinformation campaigns from foreign agents to influence the U.S. elections, among others.
Jankowicz claimed in the suit that Fox News hosts mentioned her no less than 300 times in an eight-month period last year, calling her “unhinged” and a “Minister of Truth” in what appeared to reference George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” Fox News hosts also reportedly portrayed Jankowicz as a “disinfo overlord,” “disinformation czaress,” a “lunatic,” “useful idiot,” and claimed she was “illiterate” and has a “low IQ,” the lawsuit says.
Fox News and Jankowicz’s attorney did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
“This has had an immense impact for my family. I don’t think our security will ever be the same,” Jankowicz told The New York Times. “I want to make the point that this sort of disinformation and hate campaign doesn’t have a place in American media or American politics; that this isn’t what we stand for.”
Jankowicz’s lawsuit references the Dominion case against Fox News which similarly claimed the news outlet had intentionally spread misinformation—in that case, about the validity of its voting systems. The company reached a $787.5 million settlement with Fox News, marking an important step in holding news outlets accountable, Jankowicz said in the lawsuit.
Jankowicz’s attorney, Rylee Sommers-Flanagan, told The Times that the Dominion case “signals that there is a path” for defamation lawsuits against the network. “Dominion shows us how egregious the internal conversations that are happening at Fox are; it shows us that Fox News has an absolute disregard for truth when it is related to their ratings.”
Jankowicz is demanding a trial by jury and compensatory and punitive damages, saying Fox News spread falsehoods with “intentional malice” that has affected job prospects she would have otherwise been considered for, the lawsuit says.
“Even after achieving their stated goal of driving me out of government and ending the board, they kept using me as a punching bag,” Jankowicz told The Times. “It shouldn’t be something we just accept — that the most powerful cable network in the world can attack individuals willy-nilly and not face any consequences after they ruin their lives.”
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