Moore Sues Showtime and Sacha Baron Cohen For Embarrassing Interview

Judge_Roy_MooreFormer Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has long been an perpetual litigation machine. Indeed, Moore and his wife appear to have created a cottage industry out of being themselves — getting people to give them huge amounts of money to fight their enemies.  I have been skeptical of these past lawsuits — as well as Moore’s often bizarre conduct.  Now, after the prior lawsuit amounted to nothing, Moore is launching yet another lawsuit. The latest claim is based on Moore’s sitdown with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his Showtime series “Who is America?” Essentially, Moore is complaining that he made of fool of himself because Cohen tricked him.  Moore has demanded $95 million in punitive and compensatory damages.  Despite my long admitted aversion to Moore, the complaint does raise some interesting, and unresolved, legal issues. It also presents some risks for Moore himself.

Moore is suing in torts for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud.  The allegations stem from accepting an invitation to be flown to Washington, D.C. ostensibly to receive an award for his support for Israel.  Other Republicans like Sarah Palin fell for similar pitches.

Moore met with Cohen’s faux character, Israeli anti-terrorism expert Erran Morad, who proceeded to ask to discuss the prevention of pedophilia. That should have immediately tipped off Moore that this was a trick.  If that was enough, Morad said that researchers found “pedophiles” secrete an enzyme at “three times the level of non-perverts” and that Israel “developed a machine that is used in schools and playgrounds to detect anyone coming in.”  He then pulled out the wand and waved it over Moore.  It then beeped as Morad said that he could not understand why it was registering a pedophile: “Is this your jacket? Did you lend the jacket to somebody else?”

Moore was nonplussed, saying “No. I’ve been married for 33 [years]. I’ve never had an accusation of such things. … If this is an instrument — certainly, I’m not a pedophile.”

Eventually (but rather belatedly), Moore get it and says “I am simply cutting this conversation right now. Good night. I support Israel. I don’t support this kind of stuff.”

Moore now says that the fake interview caused him reputational damage as well as “extreme emotional distress.”

The complaint states:

In order to fraudulently induce Judge Moore and Mrs. Moore to travel toWashington, D.C., where filming was to and did take place, and where the majority of acts pled herein occurred, on or about February 14, 2018, Defendant Cohen and his agents falsely and fraudulently represented to Plaintiff that Yerushalayim TV – which does not actually exist – was the producer and broadcaster of the show that Judge Moore would appear on, instead of the actual network that the show that later appeared on Showtime. In addition, Defendant Cohen and his agents falsely and fraudulently represented that Judge Moore and Mrs. Moore were both being invited to Washington, D.C., for Judge Moore to receive an award for his strong support ofIsrael in commemoration of its 70th anniversary as a nation state.

For the record, I find this type of juvenile gotcha programming reprehensible and remain mystified that Showtime would engage in such conduct.  The problem for Moore is that he is a rather notorious public figure.  Many believe that he is a pedophile. However, there are others who view him with great respect. He is not so notorious as to be “libel proof.”

Moreover, putting aside the possible application of the District of Columbia’s  anti-SLAPP law, there is the fact that Moore is a public figure.   New York Times v. Sullivan places public officials (and later public figures) under a higher standard for defamation in the case: requiring a showing of actual malice or knowing disregard of the truth.  That makes it more difficult to prove defamation if you are a public figure.

It is not clear what if anything was signed by Moore in engaging in the interview. The usual waiver includes waivers for emotional distress and other torts.  However, since this was a trick, it is hard to believe that even Moore would sign a waiver that revealed it was a faux interview or a comedy show. The second problem is that the show, when it aired, is clearly a comedy.  Thus, no one would likely believe that there is a detection wand for pedophiles.  It was a joke, even if a bad one.  Accordingly, it is not clear if an act of satire can be treated as defamation without raising serious first amendment concerns.

The problem for Moore is that a defamation action will open him up to full discovery and disclosure on the underlying claims — something Moore has avoided in the past.

Fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress raise additional questions — and concerns.  Lying to a public figure is not a crime in itself.  However, this fraud was used to induce Moore to fly to Washington and take time from his schedule.  Moreover, the fraud was used to effectively trap him in a demeaning setting.  That does raise some serious (if novel) issues under tort law.  The problem again is the use of torts to curtail what was political and creative speech.  Many satire shows like the Daily Show are satire but also play an important politically dialogic role.  Of course, the Daily Show expressly reveals it is the Daily Show for interviews in its waivers and agreements.

The complaint only makes one reference to the release, stating “In the preemptive notice, Defendants CBS, Showtime and thus Cohen were informed that the release that Judge Moore had signed was obtained through fraud, and was therefore void and inoperative.”  There is no other reference to the specific language which would be key to the litigation.

I think that it is too early to dismiss this lawsuit because of Cohen’s highly problematic methods. Defamation strikes me as a loser claim, but the other claims could present some legitimate issues depending on a couple of unknowns like the waiver or release language.

Here is the complaint: Moore v. Cohen

61 thoughts on “Moore Sues Showtime and Sacha Baron Cohen For Embarrassing Interview”

  1. “For the record, I find this type of juvenile gotcha programming reprehensible and remain mystified that Showtime would engage in such conduct. ”

    from the wikipedia.org article “Showtime (TV network)”:

    Showtime is an American premium cable and satellite television network that serves as the flagship service of the Showtime Networks subsidiary of CBS Corporation,

    CBS Corporation is mostly owned by Sumner and Shari Redstone, two of the Democratic National Committee’s most generous campaign donors. Nothing a CBS Corporation subsidiary does to draw attention to Roy Moore, who happens to be a Republican, mystifies me. CBS in general is highly political in its entertainment offerings, as the CBS Late Show demonstrates.

  2. So the end to all this is the left got slammed everytime. They cannot use any of this circular or repetitious nonsense to bolster a charge witn no merit and there still remains the root problem of nothing said by the Bimbo Brigade was worth an indictment.

    Except rigging an election with the help of the left stream media.

  3. This just in. It appears that Kelly Anne Conway may be the mole or the mystery oped leak in the White House. I always knew that there was more than just a Maggie Muggins look with sparkling eyes. There’s a gazillion dollar book and movie deal there.

          1. A

            It could be Nikki. It must be incredibly embarrassing for her to present the United Nations with an imbecile like Trump. Having to report back to Trump and try and explain stuff, while he threatens, rants, lies, and most of all, simply does not understand reality; must wear on a person.

    1. clue to isaac: we americans mostly have never heard of maggie muggins. try and make your insults intelligible to your American audience. i had to look it up. not really accurate or funny though you surely find yourself amusing

      1. Kurtz

        Ya afraid of learning something; must be a Trump supporter, spoon fed false facts from a fake President. You have to admit though; there is something doll like about Kelly Ann, even spooky. I think it’s her. And, you don’t need evidence in Trump’s world so.

      2. Kurtz

        Therein lies the problem for those that are so easily drawn to idiots like Trump, not having heard of so much. It’s that space up there where the sun don’t shine, cloistered, but number one. As long as the ear candy keeps flowing, your champion is rescuing America from disaster, daily, many times over, yup.

        1. Your thought or your partty programmers thought. Whichever the amount of thinking is noticeably absent. Was there a point…at some point? Not One LEA, Not One DA, Not one Judge is kind of hard to Trump isn’t it? No wonder the left keeps ignoring the comment.

    2. Source, site, cites, facts, supported premise ??? No? So what else is not new. but my real answer is fouond two comments away.

      1. Or two or four depending things have a tendency to jump around.
        So! Once again Comrade Isaac leaves the frozen wastelands of the north to look foolish.

        Four question. Did it ever occur to you that the imported Alabama Bimbo Brigade elicited not one responese from any Law Enforcement Official, any District or other similar Attorney, or any Judge at any level all of whom rejected the allegation that started this charade? Not ONE!

        Or that along with the Washington DC Bimbo Brigade all eight of them magically disappeared along with their Mom and Daughter legal at of Gloria All Red (doesn’t mean Republican the other kind).

        Along with half of Hollywierd and much as one may dislike Mr. Moore was this really the way to rig an election which was obvious?

        NOT ONE charge was filed resulting in an indictment.

        Never mind you won’t get facts or true premises from Comrade Isaac and his iprogrammer.

        1. Quick! Hide! They’re gonna find out you’re in the dayroom using the computer after hours! Don’t get caught again! You know you’ll get computer restriction again if you get caught.

          this is to “I have a stash of applesauce that’s worth money” mikey

  4. The skit is hilarious especially the part about the pedophile detector. I’m sure Cohen’s lawyers has all the bases covered.

    1. Did they? How sure are you? As sure as the non existent indictments? Are youi really Sure? After all who else by Bacon Boy are jumping up and done to second the motion? No One.

    2. JJ,…
      Cohen and Co. did settle at least one lawsuit out of court.
      It’s probably very difficult to successfully sue him, or get him to settle out of court.
      I don’t know what his overall record is, but I don’t think there are many examples of instances that have actually made it to trial.
      There’s an interesting documentary about some Romanian villagers who were filmed at the beginning of the movie “Borat”.
      I’ll see if it’s on the internet….they evidently did not know how their scenes were going to be used, and a lawyer talked up their chances of successfully suing.
      Then the lawyer dropped them cold, and left them hanging.

  5. Never heard of the Barbara Streisand effect….wow! Moore says: “Hey, I got a great idea! Let’s sue to insure everyone who already knows I’m a felonious child molester adds pathetic drooling idiot to my bio!” “Yeah, that’s a great idea,” says his wife and closest friends.

    I’d pay money to never see this idiot’s name typed again. Should I start a GoFundMe page for this cause? Please crawl back into your hole, doofus.

    1. “Hey, I got a great idea! Let’s sue to insure everyone who already knows I’m a felonious child molester adds pathetic drooling idiot to my bio!” “Yeah, that’s a great idea,” says his wife and closest friends.

      Not one law enforcement officer, not one prosecutor, not one judge gave the Bimbo Brigades stories any credence. So. What’s your source, site, cite of information?

      1. So you’re down with 31 year old male DA’s makin’ moves on pre-18 year olds? He hasn’t even denied that, AFAIK. Only men afraid or incapable of intimacy with mature women do such thing. Men do such thing to maintain a position of power, because of their own insecurity, and no other reason. The teens he targeted knew nothing of the world, kinda like Roy.

        The criminal statues are well past enforcement limits. That doesn’t matter any more. Moore is a disgusting, horrible creep. Anyone fooled by Cohn is not too bright. Suing Cohn shines a brighter light on Moore’s stupidity. Do you deny Moore’s lawsuit only pours salt on an open, self-inflicted stupid wound?

    2. PS. I don’t think Cohen ever returned to that Romanian village.One of the duped Romanian villagers summed up his displeasure at Cohen’s portrayal of them this way; “If I see Borat again, I will kill him with my own hands”.

  6. He can’t take a joke! That’s on him. I’m sure he’s called his buddy Trump and they are both discussing how the Congress can change the liable laws!

    1. Can youi back that up in a court of law? How sure are you? Not sure enough to come forward and do more than what? NOTHING.

    2. What are “liable laws”? And how would they change Supreme Court rulings such as New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)? Congress does not have that power – something critics of Roe v/ Wade don’t seem to get.

  7. Here we have a ‘comedien’ (In the French sense of the term a John Wayne level performer is a comedien or comedienne while a Laurence Olivier level performer is an actor-no feminine tense), level politician,Moore, entertaining us. That Moore would entertain us in office or out of office, he would always be a ‘comedien’, or a base performer. We have an equally base performer in the Oval Office. It seems that it comes down to entertainment and as has been illustrated with the ‘comedien’ in Chief, anything goes.

    So, why not have a trial where all the participants are ‘comediens’. The judge could be an Ellis type, a self promoting narcissist. The lawyers, well they would be rubbing themselves off as per usual. That would leave us the stars of the show, Moore and Cohen. Now, that I would watch.

    We would not want any incompetent and confused Marcie Clark types but the best of the best, performing, self adulating, self gratifying, pontificating.

    If Trump can turn the highest office of the land into a circus then why not have a circus? Next step, the mystery opinion person in the White House could be carefully outed and then be forced to spill all the beans, on the stand, casting a net far out, offering up more entertainment. Well scripted it might take our minds off of the tragedy that is American politics. After all the players are bought and paid for by the oligarchs/studios and only survive if they tow the line.

    1. Liberals have a saying if iyou can say it three times and get away with it iyou can cite it as evidence even if it’s just circular. So now it’s what six or seven attempts and all shot down?

      Not one cop, not one DA, not one Judge treated the allegations as worthy of consideration. Not One.

  8. Professor Turley you are finding a lot of “juvenile gotcha programming” and it seems to come predominantly from the left. Why are you surprised at Showtime? Have you not seen late night comedy?

    On the other point there seems to be a breach of contract, but that value is nearly insignificant to the amount the suit is for.

    What this is telling us is that a lot of media corporations are playing fast and loose with the truth and with unfairly portraying people.

    1. Sascha does not just go after Republican. He’s gone after some Democrats and Bernie Sanders. The difference is that the Democrats and Sanders, unlike some of the Republicans, catch on pretty quickly to the joke.

      1. BettyKath, did I say Sascha only goes after Republicans? No. However, he is a leftist, mean spirited, without any integrity etc. I saw his first film and I thought it disgraceful. It’s very easy to throw bombs at a person or a people. One has to look at his objective in being destructive. He destroys but cannot create.

        1. Completely disagree. He is a master at eliciting responses from those who have deeply ingrained thoughts and behaviors that are rigidl and unquestion. What some find abhorrent others find simply titillating. I find it interesting that Mr. Moore has a history of people believing he is a pedophile. I wonder why he wasn’t thrilled to have that finally put to rest by Sachas magic wand…….

          1. “Completely disagree. He is a master at eliciting responses from those who have deeply ingrained thoughts…”

            Becka, if Sacha was such a master he would not have to lie in the fashion he did.

            What truth was elicited from Sacha? He wasn’t letting someone incriminate themselves. He was preparing the table for ridicule and that ridicule didn’t contain any factual proof.

            1. “What truth was elicited from Sacha? He wasn’t letting someone incriminate themselves. He was preparing the table for ridicule and that ridicule didn’t contain any factual proof.”

              I don’t know, perhaps a deeply personal one. That is where he is most likely to cross the line. And ridicule? you mean like our current example in chief? I do agree that causing the man to pay money to travel to the scene was out of line. But Judges just don’t seem to like the hot seats they put others on and I don’t think Sacha should be bullied by the hypocrasy. ”
              And dam my spelling is getting atrocious….

              1. In other words you really couldn’t point to anything worthwhile in Sacha’s behavior. Then you deflect and bring Trump into the discussion.

                ” I don’t think Sacha should be bullied by the hypocrasy.”

                Sacha wasn’t being bullied. He tried to be the bully and he uses that technique to make money. That is his right, but I don’t know why any intelligent person would look faovorably toward that type of activity.

                    1. you think I’m a Lib? [heh heh…]. Waaaaah, she don’t see it my way she must be a liberal…..
                      I made no ‘original complaints’ but Sacha acts in his line of work and Mr. Trump in his. Apparently the rules are much stricter without the girding of political respite.

      2. Bettykath,..
        Years ago, Trump bounced Cohen pretty fast from the “interview” Cohen was conducting as “da Ali G.”

      1. Really Peter? Is it gotcha when a teachers union president says on tape that he will help an accused teacher by lying and backdating reports? Is it gotcha if a teachers union president admits on tape that a teacher who raped a student is still teaching.

        What is wrong with you. What do you have against innocent school children? Do you want teachers that abuse children illegally protected by their union? What type of pervert are you?

  9. However funny the interview might have been, Moore is right to claim he was the victim of a fraud. He was lured to Washington under false pretenses. A reasonable person might well have thought that the invitation was genuine; especially if all expenses were paid.

    Moore and wife might well have cancelled commitments to friends or family to make said trip. At the very least, Cohen’s production company treated the Moore’s with callous disregard.

  10. It is going to cut both ways. Cohen is going to have to answer discovery and I am willing to bet they edited the tape so the raw tape is much longer. I would think calling him a pedophile is slander per se regardless of how public a figure he is.

    1. “I would think calling him a pedophile is slander per se regardless of how public a figure he is.”

      Unless under discovery there are witnesses saying how he molested girls under the age of 18.

      1. Paul – they would have to be pre-pubescent. I found out on somebody’s show that the age of consent with adults is 15 in New Jersey.

        1. Michael Aarethun – England allows private citizens to bring criminal prosecutions against people. They have to pay for it, but they can do it. Maybe we should change our legal system?

  11. Cheap tactic getting Moore to travel on false pretense (same complaint from Palin). Might have been OK if Cohen traveled to Alabama to punk Moore.

  12. “Defamation strikes me as a loser claim, but the other claims could present some legitimate issues depending on a couple of unknowns like the waiver or release language.”

    ************************

    I thought you wanted Moore to vindicate himself in the previous fiasco by suing for defamation against his accuser?

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