Ray Epps attorney sends cease-and-desist notice to Tucker Carlson over ‘malicious lies’

A lawyer for the man at the centre of a right-wing conspiracy theory surrounding the January 6 attack on the US Capitol has demanded that Fox News personality Tucker Carlson retract his “false and defamatory” statements about him and deliver a “formal on-air apology” for the “lies” he promoted.

Far-right conspiracy theorists have accused Ray Epps of working with the federal government to instigate a riot and provoke violence in the halls of Congress, “fanciful notions” about the events of 6 January, 2021 that are “demonstrably (and already proven to be) false,” his attorney Michael Teter wrote in a cease-and-desist letter on 23 March.

“And yet Mr Carlson persists with his assault on the truth,” according to the letter, a copy of which was provided to The Independent.

The Independent has requested comment from Fox News.

The letter’s demands that the network retract such statements come as the right-wing media network and its top personality face a $1.6bn defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems that accused them of amplifying lies and baseless conspiracy theories alleging the company interfered with the 2020 presidential election in a plot to steal the outcome from Donald Trump.

The letter on behalf of Ray Epps and his wife Robyn claims that the statements from Mr Carlson have exposed the couple to “threats, intimidation, and harassment, resulting in significant economic and emotional damages,” adding that each time MR Carlson and Fox News “spreads more misinformation about Mr Epps, the harm redoubles.”

“Recent revelations from the Dominion Voting lawsuit make clear that Fox News has zero qualms about lying to its viewers,” Mr Teter said in a statement shared with The Independent. “The fictional story that Mr Carlson and Fox News have told, and continue to tell, about Ray Epps is just one more example of this. It is time for Mr Carlson and Fox News to stop the lies and to make amends.”

A man appearing to be Ray Epps filmed speaking to a crowd on 5 January (Twitter @ThomasMassie)
A man appearing to be Ray Epps filmed speaking to a crowd on 5 January (Twitter @ThomasMassie)

The letter claims that Mr Carlson and Fox News “have repeatedly peddled claims about Mr Epps that lack any foundation in fact,” including accusations that Mr Epps is a federal agent acting as a provocateur to incite the riots.

Mr Teter said that they expect Mr Carlson and Fox News to “give the same airtime in retracting these falsehoods as you spent amplifying them” and demanded that they “issue a formal on-air apology for the lies” spread about Mr Epps.

Mr Epps traveled to Washington DC from Arizona to support the now-former president as a joint session of Congress was set to certify the results of the 2020 election. Mr Epps was filmed the night before the attack urging people to go inside the Capitol and also was seen moving past exterior barricades on 6 January, though he did not go inside and he sought to diffuse the tensions with a violent mob.

But, because he was never arrested, he became embroiled in a far-right conspiracy theory that he worked with federal law enforcement to instigate the riot to entrap Trump supporters, part of a long-running belief on the right that federal authorities are using the levers of power to discriminate against them.

The House select committee investigating the attack dismissed the theory. In his interview with investigators, he testified that he was not a federal agent, and said that the “crazy” conspiracy theories surrounding him have torn his life apart.

“We had a tour bus come by our home and our business with all these whacked out people in it,” he said in his interview with the committee last year. “When they do this sort of thing, this attracts all the crazies out there.”