Yashar Ali: Fox’s Eric Bolling “is trying to intimidate me” for reporting stories of his sexual harassment
Ali: “He’s suing me personally for $50 million … if you feel that you’ve been aggrieved and you deserve damages, you go after the multibillion-dollar conglomerate, not an individual reporter.”
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From the August 13 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Suspended Fox News anchor -- host Eric Bolling suspended due to allegations covered by The Huffington Post. Columnist Yashar Ali wrote about how Bolling allegedly sent lewd, inappropriate messages to colleagues several years ago. Ali had 14 sources for his story. It was published, and then Fox suspended him -- suspended Bolling pending an investigation. So what is Bolling doing? He says he's suing Ali for $50 million. Yashar Ali's joining me now on the phone. What is the latest in your case? You've hired a high-profile attorney, Patti Glaser, who's responded with a letter to Bolling. Is that right?
YASHAR ALI: That's right. Patti sent the letter on Friday, and we've not heard back from Eric's attorney yet. And we'll see what happens. If he wants to get into this fight with me, I'm happy to take it on.
STELTER: He is suing you for defamation. Why is he wrong?
ALI: He's wrong because I spent three months on this story. As you said, I have 14 sources. I've spoken to the victims, and that's on a factual basis. I know he's wrong. He's also wrong in the sense that we've got a First Amendment, and as my lawyer said, the best defense of defamation is the truth. And he is trying to intimidate me. He sees me as a young reporter that may be scared by big lawsuits, but if he wants to wade into this pond, I'm happy to go in with him. And as I said on Friday, I look forward to Patti deposing Eric, and I look forward to discovery process. It's really important to note that, Brian, he's suing me personally for $50 million. He did not include HuffPost, which is owned by Verizon, in this lawsuit. If you want $50 million, if you feel that you've been aggrieved and you deserve damages, you go after the multibillion-dollar conglomerate, not an individual reporter.
STELTER: Interesting. Yeah. Fox News has nothing do with this suit either. It's just Bolling personally suing you personally. So you think he's just trying to intimidate you to silence you?
ALI: Yeah, and that would normally be a good strategy, right? As I said, I'm a young reporter, and most people would be scared by this. My life history has given me a lot of experience to not be scared by these things, and in fact, I relish the opportunity to see him being deposed and to stand up for not only my First Amendment rights but the First Amendment rights of many reporters who messaged me after this came out saying that they would be scared by this kind of action. And I'm not trying to turn myself into a representative for the media here, but I feel like I have to really fight this because of other reporters who would be frightened by this kind of action.