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January 6 Conspiracy Target Ray Epps Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Fox News & Tucker Carlson

On Wednesday, Ray Epps filed a lawsuit against Fox News and its former host Tucker Carlson for defamation. Epps is accusing Carlson’s show of promoting a story that Epps was an undercover government agent who incited the violence that took place in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, all in an attempt to damage Donald Trump and his allies.

Surveillance footage from January 6 captured Epps encouraging demonstrators to march “peacefully” into the Capitol with him that day. It later captured him pleading for the protest to stop once it became violent. His presence in the video originally made him a suspect in the investigation into the insurrection.

Law enforcement formally interviewed Epps in March 2021, and he was removed from the bureau’s wanted list shortly after. Despite indications that he was not part of a plot, Fox and Carlson began circulating the conspiracy that Epps “stoked the fire that led to the events of January 6.”

Over the course of many months, Carlson repeatedly mentioned Epps on air. The unsubstantiated claims quickly made their way to online communities of M.A.G.A. Republicans and conservative members of Congress, all of whom have since tried to target Epps as the mastermind behind the day’s events.

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In March, Epps demanded Fox News and Carlson retract their stories about him and issue an on-air apology, a request to which neither party responded.

Epps and his wife, Robyn, have received death threats since becoming household names. Retailers began selling t-shirts with the slogan “Arrest Ray Epps” and YouTubers published songs and videos about the conspiracy theory. The couple was forced to give up their five-acre ranch and wedding business in Arizona and move into a mobile home that they now park in Utah.

This suit is the latest in a string of legal woes that Fox News is facing. The network just agreed to a $787.5 million settlement in a defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems, who claimed that Fox was promoting false theories about election fraud. Fox is also being sued by another voting technology company, Smartmatic, for $2.7 billion, and just paid one of their former producers $12 million to settle a workplace discrimination case.

The amount that Epps is seeking in damages is currently unclear.

Ava Lombardi

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