- Sean Hannity was defiant in response to remarks about Fox News from Hillary Clinton.
- Clinton said Fox was close to “actual malice” in covering her, a legal threshold for defamation.
- Conservative media has sought to spin legal documents to claim Clinton spied on Donald Trump.
Fox News host Sean Hannity dared Hillary Clinton to sue the network after she said in a speech that its coverage of her was coming “awfully close” to the point where could win a defamation lawsuit.
Clinton in a speech at the New York State Democratic Convention Thursday had addressed Fox News’ coverage of a deposition by John Durham.
Durham is the special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to probe the FBI’s conduct as it examined alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia back in 2016.
The report has been misleadingly covered by some conservative outlets, including Fox News, who claim it contains evidence that the Clinton campaign spied on Donald Trump. Fact checkers say the filings contain nothing to substantiate that claim.
“Fox leads the charge with accusations against me, counting on their audience to fall for it again,” she said. “And as an aside, they’re getting awfully close to actual malice in their attacks.”
“Actual malice” is a term used in media law to describe when a publication can be found guilty of defamation.
US law has a high threshold for reporting on public figures like Clinton. It requires them to show not only that something published is untrue and harmful, but that the outlet was motivated by ill-will.
Hannity, one of Fox News’ top-rated hosts, on his his show Thursday, defended his coverage of the Durham filings.
He had claimed earlier in the week they showed Clinton “hacked” Trump’s White House, and on Thursday stood by the claim and said he was merely reporting information from the legal documents.
“It’s called discovery and it’s called depositions,” he said. “Bring it on. Malice? Really? It’s called news. Hillary, we invite you to bring it on. It’s from a legal filing we quoted exactly from the filing that was put in federal court.”
Clinton has long been a focal point of conservative attacks. Her rival in the 2016 election, Donald Trump has seized on the Durham filings to claim he was spied on and to spin elaborate conspiracy theories about plots to deprive him of power in the 2020 election.
Durham himself has sought to distance his investigation from some of the claims being made about it by media organisations.
He wrote in a filing Thursday: “If third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the government’s motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the government’s inclusion of this information.”