An attorney for Ray Epps, the Arizona man that January 6 conspiracy theorists falsely claim led an FBI plot to orchestrate the insurrection, demanded an on-air retraction Thursday from Fox News and its right-wing talk host Tucker Carlson, and claimed they made “false and defamatory statements” about him.
“The fanciful notions that Mr. Carlson advances on his show regarding Mr. Epps’s involvement in the January 6th insurrection are demonstrably (and already proven to be) false,” the attorney, Michael Teter, wrote in the letter. “And yet, Mr. Carlson persists with his assault on the truth.”
The letter from Teter demanded a formal retraction and on-air apology “for the lies” that have been spread about Epps on the channel.
In the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, conspiracy theorists baselessly suggested that the assault was a so-called “false flag” operation staged by the federal government to make supporters of then-President Donald Trump look bad.
As part of that conspiracy theory, some right-wing figures baselessly claimed Epps was part of a secret FBI plot to orchestrate the attack. Carlson has repeatedly breathed life into those conspiracies by giving them attention on his highly rated program. On many occasions, Carlson has specifically mentioned Epps on his show, and has played footage from January 6 of Epps at the Capitol.
In a private deposition with the House committee that investigated January 6, Epps denied that he ever worked for the FBI or for federal law enforcement, according to a transcript of his interview. He told the committee he supported Trump in 2020 and attended the DC protest because he was concerned about widespread voter fraud.
These denials from Epps are meaningful because it’s a crime to lie to Congress.
Teter, the Epps attorney, described the conspiracy theories about his client as “nonsensical fantasies” that have been “disproven by videos and accounts by those attending the January 6th events.”
“The consequences of your lies cannot be minimized,” Teter wrote in his letter to Carlson and Fox News. “Mr. and Mrs. Epps have been subjected to threats, intimidation, and harassment, resulting in significant economic and emotional damages. Each time Mr. Carlson and Fox News spreads more misinformation about Mr. Epps, the harm redoubles.”
Spokespeople for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This isn’t Teter’s first foray into the legal fallout from January 6. He has publicly pushed for professional accountability against lawyers who have spread election lies. He is the managing director of the 65 Project, a group that is trying to take disciplinary action against Trump-aligned attorneys who pushed bogus falsehoods about the election.
The legal notice comes at a precarious time for Fox News, which is being sued for $1.6 billion in a monster defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company.
Dominion has alleged in its lawsuit against Fox Corporation and Fox News that during the 2020 election the right-wing network “recklessly disregarded the truth” and pushed various pro-Trump conspiracy theories about the election technology company because “the lies were good for Fox’s business.” Fox News has strongly disputed Dominion’s allegations.
The lawsuit from Dominion has unearthed damning messages from Fox News executives and hosts that have shown the network peddled election lies to its audience that it knew were false.
A Fox News producer earlier this week also filed a lawsuit against the network, alleging that the right-wing network’s lawyers coerced her into providing misleading testimony in the case.