Fox News Sues Carnahan Campaign Over TV Footage Use

Thursday, 16 Sep 2010 08:00 PM

Fox News Network sued the U.S. Senate campaign organization of Robin Carnahan in Missouri, alleging unauthorized use of the cable channel’s footage in a “smear ad” against her opponent.

The Carnahan campaign used the video to give the impression that the network and Chris Wallace, a Fox News host, were endorsing her against her opposing candidate, Roy Blunt, Fox said in a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Kansas City.

“The Carnahan ad is designed to make it appear as if Wallace -- a trusted journalist -- is instead speaking as a campaign operative,” Fox said in the complaint, which also lists Wallace as a plaintiff. Fox, a unit of New York-based News Corp., said it hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the race. News Corp.’s political action committee has given $2,500 to Blunt, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The network said Carnahan, a Democrat, infringed its copyright by using in a 32-second campaign advertisement a 2006 Wallace interview with Blunt, a Republican U.S. congressman. Wallace was questioning Blunt about whether he was the best candidate for House majority leader at the time.

“We stand behind our ad,” Linden Zakula, press secretary for the Carnahan campaign, said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s unclear why Fox News refuses to stand by its own content that simply asked questions about Congressman Blunt’s Washington record.”

This month Carnahan’s organization began running the ad, “Clean Up the House,” on television and online. The complaint said the spot begins, “I’m Robin Carnahan, and I approve this message,” and then displays the Fox footage with the network’s logo.

Web Message

On Carnahan’s campaign website, a link to the ad returns this text: “The interview with Roy Blunt that Fox News doesn’t want you to see has been temporarily removed. Check back soon.”

Carnahan has been Missouri’s secretary of state since 2004. She is the daughter of former governor Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash in 2000.

Besides copyright infringement, Fox accused Carnahan of invasion of the right of privacy through misappropriation of a likeness and identity.

The case is Fox News Network LLC v. Robin Carnahan for Senate Inc., 10-00906, U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City)

--With assistance from Jonathan Salant in Washington. Editors: Charles Carter, Fred Strasser

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.

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