- Hillary Clinton criticized Fox News’ recent coverage of her amid claims that she organized a conspiracy to spy on Trump.
- Clinton said Fox was “getting awfully close to actual malice in their attacks.”
- Actual malice is a key part of American defamation law for public figures.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday Fox criticized News’ coverage of her connection to what some conservatives have argued was a plot to spy on former President Donald Trump but that fact-checkers have found to be severely lacking in context.
Clinton went so far as to accuse Fox of brushing up on the line of actual malice, an important legal distinction in defamation law.
“It’s funny the more trouble Trump gets into the wilder the charges and conspiracy theories about me seem to get,” Clinton said during a keynote speech at the New York Democratic Party’s convention. “Fox leads the charge with accusations against me, counting on their audience to fall for it again. As an aside, they’re getting awfully close to actual malice in their attacks.”
Fox News representatives did not return Insider’s request for comment.
Clinton’s comments come as the right-wing media and former President Donald Trump renew claims that the Clinton campaign illegally spied on Trump during the 2016 campaign and after he was president.
At the center of the claims is a recent filing by the special counsel John Durham in his ongoing case against the former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who was charged last year with lying to the FBI. The filing in question says Sussmann obtained nonpublic data from the White House via a technology executive who had legal access to the data. While the details in the filing raised questions about the ethics of their conduct, Durham did not accuse the lawyer or the tech executive of spying or hacking.
Trump and conservative media joyfully greeted the filing as evidence of a vast conspiracy to spy on him, though Trump himself has moved the goalposts on what precisely constitutes spying.
“In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death,” Trump said in a statement about the filing, arguing what happened was “far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate.”
Clinton’s line about actual malice comes from a landmark 1964 Supreme Court decision, which set out specific tests for when a public official could make a successful defamation claim. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin recently lost a case against the Times, which centered the standards the Supreme Court put into place.
As Clinton was speaking from the convention floor, Fox News briefly carried her remarks before cutting out after she mentioned the “big lie” of Trump continuing to claim the 2020 election was stolen.
—Lis Power (@LisPower1) February 17, 2022
In between coverage of Russia’s aggressive posture toward Ukraine amid a potential invasion along with extensive segments dedicated to the Canadian truckers, several Fox News shows have seized on speculation about Clinton running for president again in 2024.
There has been no indication from Clinton or her allies that she’s planning on running a primary challenge against President Biden.
Biden, for his part, has promised to run again in 2024 with Vice President Kamala Harris on the ticket.