Ray Epps, a former Marine and Arizona rancher, has filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News on Tuesday, alleging the network falsely implicated him as a central figure in the planning and execution of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The suit challenges Fox News’ reporting, which Epps says has led to damaging consequences to his personal and professional life.
- Ray Epps is accused of instigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and its former host, Tucker Carlson.
- The suit alleges that Fox News and Carlson repeatedly spread false claims about Epps being a covert government agent involved in the January 6 attack.
- Epps and his wife claim their lives have been upended as a result of these unfounded allegations, forcing them to sell their Arizona ranch due to death threats and relocate to a remote trailer park in Utah.
- The Justice Department, while never charging Epps for his actions on January 6, notified him in May that it planned to file charges against him related to his involvement in the Capitol attack, undermining the conspiracy theory that he was an undercover agent.
Fox News in Crosshairs: Ray Epps Files Defamation Lawsuit Over False Claims
Ray Epps, an Arizona man who claims to have been falsely implicated in conspiracy theories surrounding the January 6, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and its former host Tucker Carlson on July 12, 2023. This suit is the latest in a series of legal challenges against Fox News related to its coverage of the 2020 election and post-election events.
Epps, a two-time Trump voter, claimed that Fox News and Carlson falsely portrayed him as a covert government agent responsible for inciting the violence on January 6. These unfounded allegations quickly disseminated across online Trump-supporting communities and Republican political circles, generating substantial negative publicity for Epps. The lawsuit states that Fox News began promoting these false claims about Epps in a bid to find a scapegoat for the events of January 6.
The Fallout for Epps
As a direct result of these baseless allegations, Epps and his wife, Robyn, have been subjected to numerous death threats. They were compelled to sell their five-acre ranch and wedding business in Arizona at a steep discount and relocate to a remote trailer park in the mountains of Utah.
The Broader Context
Fox News has been grappling with numerous lawsuits tied to its coverage of the 2020 election. Notably, the network recently agreed to a $787.5 million settlement in a separate defamation case brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems.
Implication of Fox News in 2020 Election Misinformation
The suit also accuses Fox News of perpetuating the unfounded belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent. According to the complaint, Epps was a dedicated viewer of the network and was led to attend the January 6 protest due to the misinformation propagated by Fox News.
Justice Department’s Involvement
While Epps was never charged for his actions on January 6, the Justice Department informed him in May 2023 of their intent to file criminal charges against him relating to his role in the Capitol attack.
The forthcoming charges undercut the theory that Epps was a covert government operative.
Fox News has not yet issued a response to the defamation lawsuit.
- Feuer, A., & Peters, J. W. (2023, July 12). Arizona Man Cited in Conspiracy Theories Sues Fox News for Defamation. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/12/business/ray-epps-fox-tucker-carlson-lawsuit.html
- Barr, J., & Sommer, W. (2023, July 12). Fox News sued for defamation by man linked to Jan. 6 conspiracy theories. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2023/07/12/ray-epps-fox-news-lawsuit/