Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told CNN Tuesday she intends to sue Fox News in the wake of the channel’s coverage of supposed “no-go zones” for non-Muslims.
Hidalgo said the channel had “insulted” her city.
“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 told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”
Amanpour’s full interview will be televised on Tuesday afternoon.
Fox News representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Hidalgo’s remarks came after a series of Fox segments suggested there are parts of Paris and other European cities where Islamic law is practiced and where police are fearful to work. The segments were widely mocked and challenged as inaccurate, particularly by French media outlets.
Some critics have accused the network of using the controversial “no-go zones” idea to perpetuate a fearful narrative about Muslims, particularly in the days since terror attacks in Paris.
“Fox & Friends,” for example, displayed an apparent map of the “no-go zones” in and around Paris. On another show, a guest who was identified as a security expert claimed that Birmingham, England is a “totally Muslim city where non-Muslims don’t go in.”
Fox News anchors issued several apologies on Saturday for the segments.
With regards to Paris, “some of the neighborhoods were highlighted incorrectly,” host Anna Kooiman said.
At another point, Julie Banderas issued a blanket apology to “the people of France and England.”
But that apology likely wasn’t seen in France, where Fox News has virtually no distribution.
In the U.S., where the network is based, a lawsuit for defamation filed by a city would likely be tossed out, media law experts said.
“A claim like this would never succeed in a United States court because there’s no such thing as defamation” of a municipality, said Jeff Hermes of the Media Law Resource Center. (MLRC is nonprofit organization of media outlets; Fox News is a member.)
It’s a precedent that was established nearly 100 years ago, when the city of Chicago sued the Chicago Tribune over a series of critical editorials. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled citizens had nearly free range to criticize their government.
So the city would be left to pursue a suit in a French court. That’s also problematic: Fox News has limited presence there, leaving the justice system with limited leverage over the company.
Also U.S. law gives media outlets special protections against the decisions of foreign courts.
A 2010 law called the SPEECH Act “was designed to protect American publishers from defamation lawsuits overseas,” said Anthony Fargo, a professor and director of the Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies at Indiana University. He, too, thinks it unlikely a U.S. court would hear the case.
Among those who ridiculed the Fox News claims was British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said, “When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fools Day.”