A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has dismissed a defamation suit filed by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson against Judge Jeanine Pirro on the grounds that the Fox News host specializes in “loud, caustic and hard hitting” opinion, the New York Daily News reported.
Justice Robert Kalish sided with Pirro in the case, arguing that many of the statements the conservative pundit made about McKesson during a 2017 appearance on “Fox & Friends” were her opinion, and thus protected by the First Amendment.
“Pirro’s lack of temperament and caustic commentary is what she is known, celebrated and frequently criticized for,” the judge wrote in his decision. “However divisive one might find the subject two-minute sequence, the law of this state protects the expressions of opinion it represents.”
McKesson, a noted speaker and host of the “Pod Save the People” podcast, sued Pirro in December 2017 after the former Westchester County, New York, district attorney went on-air and claimed he’d “directed” violence against a Baton Rouge police officer during a protest, a claim the activist denies.
In her defense, Pirro argued she was only stating her opinion that McKesson should be held liable for the injuries the officer sustained during the demonstrations. Kalish agreed, saying the host was free to express her opinions, and noted that Pirro’s own lawyer has described her on-air shtick as “loud, caustic and hard-hitting.”
The judged criticized Pirro’s rhetoric, however, pointing to the clear racial undertones of the segment.
“That the Court finds Pirro’s statements to be protected statements of opinion does not mean this Court agrees with Pirro’s opinions or condones her behavior or rhetoric,” Kalish added. “This Court is not blind to the undertones in this segment.”
McKesson, 33, admitted he felt let down after the judge’s decision Tuesday.
“I’m obviously disappointed, but as FOX argued and the judge recognized … when you have a certain reputation, less is expected of you,” he told the Daily News.
Meanwhile, Pirro remains embroiled in controversy after bigoted statements she made about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. Her Fox News program “Justice with Judge Jeanine” was pulled from the network’s Saturday lineup amid the controversy but is expected to be back on air March 30, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The TV host faced backlash after suggesting that Omar’s Muslim headdress went against the U.S. Constitution.
“Omar wears a hijab,” Pirro argued. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?”