Ray Epps, known Trump supporter and participant in the January 6 protests in Washington, has lodged a defamation lawsuit against Fox News and former host Tucker Carlson. The suit alleges that Fox News spread false claims portraying Epps as an undercover FBI agent instrumental in instigating the Capitol riots.
Epps’ lawsuit accuses Fox News of crafting a “fantastical story” of him being a government-sponsored inciter of the violence that erupted during Congress’s count of electoral votes to confirm Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Epps alleges that this smear campaign, driven by Carlson over several years, resulted in the destruction of his and his wife’s lives. At the time of the incident, the couple lived in Arizona but have since moved to Utah.
“Fox and Mr. Carlson made Epps the central figure in a lie they concocted about January 6, 2021. Fox must be held accountable,” reads the lawsuit, stressing the profound personal consequences for Epps, including reputation damage, livelihood loss, and ongoing harassment.
Fox News has not yet responded to these allegations, and Carlson’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, declined to comment.
The lawsuit reveals that FBI investigators had cleared Epps in March 2021 and subsequently removed his photo from its wanted suspect’s list in July. However, the lawsuit claims, Carlson “fixated on Epps” and frequently featured him in over two dozen segments.
Notably, Epps was filmed encouraging Trump supporters to enter the Capitol the night before the Jan. 6 riot. Later footage showed Epps offering law enforcement officers assistance during the chaos, a stark contrast to the earlier conspiracy theories.
Epps, in his testimony to the now-disbanded House Jan. 6 committee, firmly stated, “The only time I’ve been involved with the government was when I was a Marine in the United States Marine Corps.”
The lawsuit argues that Fox News distributed Carlson’s defamatory statements widely, leading to death threats, causing Epps to abandon his business, sell his property, and move into an RV.
The case, initially filed in Delaware state court, has since moved to federal court following Fox News’ request. Epps’ attorney Michael Teter previously urged Carlson to retract his “false and defamatory statements” about Epps publicly.
The suit came amidst the aftermath of Fox News’ $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over allegations of promoting false claims about the 2020 election. “As Fox recently learned in its litigation against Dominion Voting Systems, its lies have consequences,” says Epps’ lawsuit, clearly referring to the recent Fox News legal battles.