Fox News and the rest of the defendants in a defamation case brought by Rod Wheeler over an article the network ran about the death of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich filed motions to dismiss the case in federal court earlier this week. Wheeler claims the article falsely attributed quotes to him that he never gave. One of the defendants, Ed Butowski, also filed a separate motion, calling Wheeler’s lawsuit “frivolous,” and saying the court should impose sanctions on him and his attorney.
Butowski’s motion says that Wheeler’s lawsuit mostly focuses on an alleged “spectacular conspiracy” between Fox News and the Trump administration to pin the hacking of DNC computers on Rich instead of Russia. The parts that do deal with the allegedly false statements in the article, Butowski claims, fail to link him to the story, and don’t make out a case for defamation.
Butowski also took aim at Wheeler’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, who also represents more than a dozen current and former Fox News employees in various lawsuits against the cable network. Butowski accuses Wigdor of using Wheeler’s case to add the pile as an attempt to “piggyback off recent highprofile settlements” that Fox News has paid in recent months.
“Plaintiff’s suit against Butowsky is a transparent ploy and a waste of the Court’s and the parties’ time and resources,” the motion says.
Jeanne M. Christensen, partner at Wigdor LLP responded to the motion in a statement to LawNewz.com:
Today’s filing is yet another pathetic example of Fox News and its cronies baselessly attacking legitimate victims and their lawyers. This is hardly the first time that these tactics have been deployed as other innocent victims and their lawyers have been the subject of similar frivolous schemes to intimidate in an attempt at preventing victims from vindicating their rights. I can assure you that we will not be bullied by this latest transparent public relations effort and the continued attempts by our adversaries to shift attention away from the real issues in these important matters that we very much look forward to litigating on the merits in court.