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CNN analyst urges Fox to settle Paris lawsuit: Unlike US, French have ‘criminalized’ slander

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Two CNN legal analysts said on Tuesday that the city of Paris could win a lawsuit against Fox News because French law was less tolerant of slander and defamation than United States law.

On Tuesday, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told CNN that the city was going to sue the conservative network for repeatedly reporting that there were so-called “no-go zones” in the city where Muslims had taken control. Fox eventually issued several on-air apologies after leaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron and French television shows mocked the network.

“When we’re insulted, and when we’ve had an image, then I think we’ll have to sue, I think we’ll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed,” Hidalgo explained to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”

And according to CNN legal analysts, Fox News may get away with stretching the truth in the U.S., but it should take the threat of a French lawsuit very seriously.

“Under U.S. law, I would say there is no chance of bringing a defamation case against the Fox network,” CNN legal analyst Paul Callan explained. “Under French law, however, if they can get jurisdiction over Fox, there’s a law from 1881 — believe it or not — that says if you insult the honor of a French body or person, you can sue for defamation. So under the 1881 French law, they might have a case against the Fox network in France.”

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CNN media critic Brian Stelter pointed out that there was precedent for cities suing television networks because a town in Brazil had sued CNN and won. But that verdict was eventually overturned.

Legal analyst Danny Cevallos advised Fox News to settle with Paris and put the lawsuit behind them as quickly as possible.

“If you want to defend a defamation lawsuit, it’s pricey, it’s costly, a lot of times you want those things to go away,” Cevallos said. “People may be surprised to learn that the French, in fact, do not take such a liberal view of the First Amendment as do we. Of course, they don’t have a First Amendment, but they have laws criminalizing defamation. Whereas here in the United States, defamation is merely a civil action.”

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“And I think that would surprise people to learn that France just doesn’t view free speech the way we do.”

Update, 6:22 p.m. EST: Fox’s executive vice-president of news, Michael Clemente, responded to the lawsuit threat in a short statement on Tuesday evening.

“We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life,” Clemente said. “However, we find the Mayor’s comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced.”

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Watch the video below from CNN, broadcast Jan. 20, 2015.


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White nationalism is ‘the greatest threat to American democracy’: Fascism expert

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "All In," The Atlantic staff writer and fascism expert Adam Serwer laid out in grim terms the stakes of President Donald Trump's incitement of racist anger against Democratic congresswomen of color.

"From the beginning, we have been haunted by this question: Is America a white man’s republic or a nation for all of its citizens?" said Serwer. "Throughout the last 200-some odd years, the greatest threat to American democracy has always been white nationalism, the defining of American citizenship in racial terms. It almost destroyed the country on multiple occasions. Now President Trump has drawn a line. He has now made it clear that the citizenship of American citizens who are not white is conditional and can be revoked. Quite frankly, there is lots of disagreement between the two political parties. There are lots of issues on which we differ, but this is not a question on which there can actually be disagreement. The choice is now quite clear."

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On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "All In," former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) laid into his erstwhile party for its embrace of President Donald Trump's racial hatred and intolerance, as exemplified by the crowd of Trump rallygoers in Greenville, North Carolina chanting "Send Her Back!" of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

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The racist Republican Party must be ‘utterly confronted and destroyed’: Chris Hayes

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On Thursday evening, MSNBC's Chris Hayes tore into the Republican Party for accepting and legitimizing the racism of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

"'Send Her Back.' The darkest, ugliest impulses that a political movement can cultivate on full unapologetic display," said Hayes. "That's what Donald Trump has been cultivating all along. Whether the Republican Party likes it or not, it stands for it now. Most of us across the ideological spectrum feel, viscerally, a kind of moral revulsion when we hear and see an angry mob braying 'Send Her Back' about a fellow American. But the reaction from Republicans today was basically a foregone conclusion."

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