Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced on Tuesday that she plans to sue Fox News for the network’s inaccurate commentary regarding Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe.
“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. The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced,” Hidalgo told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. When Amanpour asked which network Hidalgo planned to bring to court, Hidalgo specified Fox News.
Fox News aired a segment last week in which host Jeanine Pirro and pundit Steven Emerson discussed the existence of hundreds of “no-go zones” in France and throughout Europe.
“You basically have zones where Sharia courts are set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don’t go in, and where it’s basically a separate country almost. A country within a country,” Emerson said.
“It sounds like a caliphate within a particular country,” responded Pirro.
“I got into a Tweet fight with the French Ambassador who denied that there are any such things as no-go zones, except on the French, you know, official website it says there are and it actually has a map of them,” said Emerson.
“And in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire. So, there’s a situation that Western Europe is not dealing with,” said Emerson.
Critics quickly challenged Emerson’s comments about the city of Birmingham; according to Birmingham’s census, “46.1% of Birmingham residents said they were Christian, 21.8% Muslim and 19.3% had no religion.”
Fox News has made several on-air apologies for the network’s circulation of various misinformation, including one from anchor Julie Banderas regarding errors in reporting on Europe’s Muslim population:
Jeanine Pirro issued an apology as well for Emerson’s errors, and for not questioning Emerson’s claims about Birmingham:
Fox and Friends anchor Anna Kooiman issued yet another apology for the network displaying a map of France highlighting its supposed “no-go” zones:
Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice president, said that “We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life. However, we find the mayor’s comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced,” according to a statement issued to CNNMoney. Fox host Bill O’Reilly said that France’s mayor is a “socialist” and “Fox News isn’t even seen in France” on his show on Tuesday.
A successful legal claim could prove difficult in a United States court. Anthony Fargo, director of the Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies at Indiana University, pointed out that the SPEECH Act, passed in 2010, “was designed to protect American publishers from defamation lawsuits overseas.” Jeff Hermes of the Media Law Resource Center said that a defamation claim from France “would never succeed in a United States court because there’s no such thing as defamation” of a municipality.