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Fox News host Eric Bolling filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against a HuffPost writer after Bolling was accused in a report published last week of sending lewd text messages to colleagues.
Court filings from the New York State Supreme Court reveal that Yashar Ali, a HuffPost contributing writer, was issued a summons notice to appear in court.
“The nature of this action is for damages and injunctive relief based on defamation arising from the defendant’s efforts to injure the plaintiff’s reputation through the intentional and/or highly reckless publication of actionable false and misleading statements about the plaintiff’s conduct and character,” the court notice said.
Bolling was suspended from Fox News after being accused of sending unsolicited photos of male genitalia to several colleagues at various departments over a span of several years. The allegations, first brought to light by Ali’s report, cited over a dozen sources.
“Eric Bolling has been suspended pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway,” Fox News said in a statement emailed to Business Insider on Saturday.
In response the lawsuit, Ali said on Twitter that he would stand by his reporting and protect his sources.
“Not going to stop reporting on Eric Bolling or anyone else,” Ali tweeted. “I’ve had family members killed/jailed in Iran, a lawsuit isn’t going to scare me.”
Ali made another observation: “It’s important to note that Bolling’s summons does not include HuffPost – he is coming after me personally,” Ali tweeted.
Members of HuffPost’s editorial team weighed in to defend Ali, describing him as a “careful and meticulous reporter.”
“We stand by his reporting,” HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen tweeted.
HuffPost also said it had “no hesitation” to financially stand by Ali, who is a paid freelancer under contract with the news organization.
Following the initial report on the Bolling allegations, Caroline Heldman, a former Fox News contributor, said in a Facebook post that the cable news host’s conduct had been “wildly inappropriate for years.”
“Once, he took me up to his office in New York, showed me his baseball jerseys, and in the brief time I was there, let me know that his office was his favorite place to have sex,” Heldman said.
21st Century Fox has retained the services of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, a prominent law firm with prior experience in handling legal cases in the entertainment industry, to head the investigation. “We are investigating this matter and all claims will be taken into account,” a Fox News statement said after Heldman’s allegations.
After being suspended, Bolling said he was “overwhelmed by all the support.”
“I look forward to clearing my name asap,” he tweeted Monday.
As Ali’s court notice began circulating Wednesday, Bolling also tweeted: “I will continue to fight against these false smear attacks! THANK YOU FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT.”
Neither HuffPost nor its parent company, Oath, was immediately available for comment.