See below for the full complaint, filed today, by Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax against CBS for alleged “defamation.” According to the Washington Post story, the lawsuit alleges that “the network recklessly disregarded the truth and hyped what he says are false sexual assault allegations against him.” Also: “In response to the suit, Watson attorney Nancy Erika Smith said, ‘We look forward to everyone testifying under oath, now that this matter is in court.'” This should be…er, interesting.
With that, here are a few highlights from the lawsuit (bolding added by me for emphasis):
- “This defamation suit arises from intentionally fabricated, false, and politically motivated statements made by Meredith Watson (“Watson”) and Vanessa Tyson (“Tyson”) alleging that they were sexually assaulted by Justin Fairfax. CBS published, promoted, and amplified these false statements during separate interviews with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King broadcast by CBS to a national audience on April 1, 2019 (Tyson) and April 2, 2019 (Watson). CBS heavily promoted the interviews in the time leading up to the broadcasts. Fairfax brings this action to restore his reputation and clear his name, ensure the truth prevails, stop the weaponization of false allegations of sexual assault against him, and vindicate his rights under civil law.”
- “Both encounters were entirely consensual. Yet, 19 and 15 years later, respectively, Watson and Tyson falsely and publicly claimed they had been sexually assaulted by Fairfax, just as Fairfax was poised to ascend to the Governorship of Virginia following a blackface photo scandal affecting current Governor Ralph Northam. The timing and circumstances of these false and salacious allegations demonstrate that it was a political hit job—a deliberate and calculated effort to permanently harm Fairfax’s political and professional career and to attempt to prevent him from becoming Governor of Virginia.”
- Tyson and Watson were “politically motivated.”
- “Given its own significant problems with #MeToo scandals, CBS had a clear agenda and media bias in seeking to support #MeToo accusers in its reporting on the sexual assault and rape allegations made by Watson and Tyson against Fairfax. As a result of that bias, CBS abandoned sound, standard journalistic practices that would have revealed fabrications, inconsistencies, and provably false statements made by Watson and Tyson and undermined the credibility of their stories.”
- “Fairfax seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the extreme harm that the Defendants have jointly and severally caused. He also seeks to enjoin CBS from continuing to publish these defamatory interviews and statements.”
- “Fairfax had indeed been warned in the fall of 2018 that should Fairfax announce his intention to run for Governor in 2021, [Richmond Mayor Levar] Stoney, [Richmond City Council Candidate Thad] Williamson, and [Williamson’s wife Adria] Scharf intended to promote a supposedly damaging, uncorroborated accusation against Fairfax involving Tyson in an attempt to harm Fairfax personally and professionally and to derail his political future.”
- CBS alleged acted with “malice” against Fairfax and was “the only major television network to publish interviews with Tyson and Watson.”
- ” Fairfax has been falsely branded a ‘rapist’, ‘predator’ and ‘sexual abuser’. This circumstance all but forecloses his ability to earn a living and provide for his family. His once promising career and political prospects have been severely harmed by the reckless airing of these false allegations.”
- Fairfax seeks “compensatory damages of not less than four hundred million dollars,” plus “punitive damages” and an “injunction prohibiting the Defendants from disseminating, distributing, or publishing any footage or statements that are judicially determined to be defamatory.”
- Fairfax’s attorneys are: Kropf Moseley, PLCC; Jane M. Reynolds; Kiah Spinks.