A controversial Alabama politician’s $95-million lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen has been dismissed.
As People reported, Judge John Cronan ruled against failed Senate candidate Roy Moore, who claimed he and his wife had suffered “emotional distress” due to the “fraud” commited by the British comedian in his 2018 Showtime series “Who Is America?”.
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In the prank, Cohen was costumed as an Israeli terrorism expert who used a purported “pedophile detector” on Moore (Moore became notorious for having allegedly dated underage girls, some as young as 14, when he was in his 30s).
The judge agreed with Cohen’s lawyers that Moore’s claims were invalid based on a waiver that Moore had signed prior to the interview, while Cohen’s prank was clearly satire and thus protected by the First Amendment.
“Given the satirical nature of that segment and the context in which it was presented, no reasonable viewer would have interpreted Cohen’s conduct during the interview as asserting factual statements concerning Judge Moore,” Cronan wrote.
“No viewer could have reasonably believed that ‘Who Is America?’ was providing accurate news to its audience,” he wrote, adding, “Cohen portrayed ridiculous characters conducting absurd interviews of seemingly unsuspecting individuals.”
Cohen celebrated the decision by sharing video of the prank on Twitter, adding “Sorry, Roy. Nice try.”
Sorry, Roy. Nice try.
And this is now part of the legal record:
“Several published articles accused Judge Moore of inappropriate sexual encounters with young females, including one who was underage”
Seems like a good day to enjoy this again:https://t.co/5i8Ojs5pc4
— Sacha Baron Cohen (@SachaBaronCohen) July 13, 2021
Back in 2018, MSNBC reported that Moore sued suing Cohen and CBS (parent company of Showtime) for defamation over the bit.
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The stunt led Moore to storm off the set when the “pedophile detector” went off whenever it was placed near him. “I’ve been married for 33 years, I’ve never had an accusation of such things,” Moore said before he walked away. “If this is an instrument, then it’s certainly… I’m not a pedophile, OK? Maybe Israeli technology hasn’t developed properly.”
According to MSNBC, Moore’s lawsuit alleged that he and his wife were duped into travelling to Washington, D.C., for the interview with promises he would appear on an Israeli TV network, in addition to receiving an award honouring his support of Israel. Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, was also named as a plaintiff in the suit.
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After the show aired, Moore issued a statement slamming Cohen and hinted at legal action.
“I am involved in several court cases presently to defend my honour and character against vicious false political attacks by liberals like Cohen,” said Moore at the time. “If Showtime airs a defamatory attack on my character, I may very well be involved in another. As for Mr. Cohen, whose art is trickery, deception and dishonesty, Alabama does not respect cowards who exhibit such traits! It’s been a long time since I fought for my country in Vietnam. I’m ready to defend her again!”