The city of Paris has threatened to sue Fox News over an erroneous report the network made claiming Paris had "no-go zones" for police and non-Muslims. The network later apologized for the error.
"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," Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told CNN on Tuesday. "The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced."
The comments stem from numerous segments Fox aired last week claiming that police and non-Muslims refuse to enter certain areas in France and England out of fear, with one show, Fox & Friends, erroneously showing a map "highlighting" the non-existent zones. Fox & Friends host Anna Kooiman later apologized, noting that "some of the neighborhoods were highlighted incorrectly."
Last week, Steve Emerson, a self-proclaimed "internationally recognized expert on terrorism and national security," appeared on Fox's Justice With Jeanine Pirro to falsely describe "safe havens" in France where "governments...don't exercise sovereignty, so you basically have zones where Sharia courts are set up...and where it's basically a separate country."
Emerson also claimed that there are cities such as Birmingham, England that are "totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go in." Emerson later apologized, in part, for his comments, writing, "I have clearly made a terrible error for which I am deeply sorry. My comments about Birmingham were totally in error...I do not intend to justify or mitigate my mistake by stating that I had relied on other sources because I should have been much more careful...I made an inexcusable error."
After guest Jessie Jane Duff, a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, erroneously claimed that 69 percent of French Muslims support ISIS on a separate show, Fox anchor Eric Shawn apologized, saying, "We at Fox News have subsequently determined that that poll is not credible, and should not have been used or referred to, and we apologize for that error," according to CNN.
Fox anchor Julie Banderas reiterated Shawn's comments, noting, "Over the course of this last week we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe — particularly with regard to England and France. This applies especially to discussions of so-called 'no-go zones,' areas where non-Muslims allegedly aren't allowed in, and police supposedly won't go. To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion." In total, Fox anchors apologized on four separate occasions.
"We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life," Fox executive vice president Michael Clemente told CNN in a statement Tuesday. "However, we find the mayor's comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced."
Many legal experts believe the lawsuit would not succeed in the United States, leaving the city to pursue the case in a French court where defamation laws fall under criminal jurisdiction rather than civil in the U.S. While the idea of a city suing a national network is rare, it's not unprecedented. As CNN media critic and Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter pointed out (via Raw Story), a Brazilian town had sued CNN and won, though the verdict was eventually overturned.