MEDIA

Reporter's Lawyer Demands Fox News Host Drop Lawsuit Over Lewd Texting Story

She called Eric Bolling's $50 million defamation claim against Yashar Ali "utterly devoid of merit."

A lawyer representing journalist Yashar Ali demanded Friday that Fox News host Eric Bolling dismiss his $50 million defamation lawsuit against Ali, which stemmed from an Aug. 4 HuffPost report alleging that Bolling sent unsolicited lewd messages to colleagues.

In a letter obtained by HuffPost (see below), attorney Patricia Glaser described Bolling’s claims as “utterly devoid of merit.”

“The Summons with Notice you filed on August 9, 2017 is purposefully sparse on allegations,” she wrote, “and does not identify which purportedly ‘false and misleading’ statements could possibly support a $50 million damages award.”

In his original story, Ali said he had spoken to 14 sources in and out of Fox News and Fox Business. Prior to publication, he reached out to Bolling to ask if at any point he had “sent lewd or inappropriate text messages or emails to Fox News or Fox Business colleagues that were unsolicited” and specifically, whether he sent an image of male genitalia to them. 

Bolling attorney Michael J. Bowe replied on Aug. 4 that his client “recalls no such inappropriate communications” and “does not believe” he sent them. Glaser wrote that “Bolling’s recollection and belief hardly constitute a denial of the accusations against him.”

Fox News suspended Bolling on Aug. 5 pending an investigation. He initiated the lawsuit through a summons to Ali on Aug. 9, but has not yet filed a full suit.

Glaser called the summons “frivolous” because it “asserts material factual statements that are false” and was “filed to harass or maliciously injure” Ali. She wrote that Ali has faced racist attacks online since Bolling filed the suit.

Bolling is seeking damages only from Ali, a freelance journalist under contract with HuffPost, and not from the media outlet.

“We view your decision to sue Mr. Ali in his individual capacity, for $50 million, without also naming the Huffington Post, as a calculated effort to harass and intimidate Mr. Ali personally,” Glaser wrote. “It will not work.

HuffPost has defended the journalist and offered to pay his legal bills if necessary.

“Yashar Ali is a careful and meticulous reporter. We stand by his reporting,” HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen said in a statement Wednesday. “Ali is a paid freelancer under contract with HuffPost. We have no hesitation about standing by him financially in this case.”

Bolling is being represented by Kasowitz Benson Torres, the same firm that defended former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly following sexual harassment allegations. Partner Marc Kasowitz, who has a long-standing professional relationship with Donald Trump, was retained by the president to represent him in the Russia investigation; he is no longer leading that legal team.

In a statement to HuffPost, Bowe said “it is ironic and telling that Ms. Glaser accuses us of a publicity stunt in a letter she has yet to send me and that I learned about from the New York Times.”

“She is right about one thing,” Bowe continued. “No evidence has been produced about these claims, and that is why we filed suit so that the evidence and truth will come out.”  

Glaser, who has also represented media figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, wrote Friday that her team would welcome the “opportunity to depose Mr. Bolling and review his message history, as we presume that you have instructed him to preserve communications.”

She said that if Bolling declines to dismiss the lawsuit against Ali, she has been “authorized to pursue all claims in law and in equity against you and your client, including malicious prosecution.”

This article was updated with a statement from Michael Bowe. 

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