Defamation Suit Against Baron Cohen Tossed Again

Roy Moore claimed comedian tricked him into interview
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 13, 2021 7:34 PM CDT
Updated Jul 8, 2022 1:25 AM CDT
Judge Tosses Roy Moore's Lawsuit Against Baron Cohen
Moore, right, appeared on Baron Cohen's show in 2018.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) Update: An appeals court on Thursday rejected a $95 million defamation lawsuit against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen filed by former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who said he was tricked into a television appearance that lampooned sexual misconduct accusations against him. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, upholding a lower court’s ruling in favor of Baron Cohen, said Moore signed a disclosure agreement that prohibited any legal claims over the appearance. The three judges also found it was "clearly comedy" when Baron Cohen demonstrated a so-called pedophile detector that beeped when it got near Moore and no viewer would think the comedian was making factual allegations against Moore. Moore says he will appeal again. Our original story from July 13, 2021, follows:

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed failed Senate candidate Roy Moore’s $95 million lawsuit targeting comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. The lawsuit was filed after Moore complained he was tricked into an interview that lampooned sexual misconduct accusations against him. Judge John Cronan wrote that Moore signed a clear disclosure agreement that prohibited any legal claims over the appearance. He added that the absurd segment—in which the comic demonstrated a so-called pedophile detector that beeped when it got near Moore—was "clearly a joke" and no viewer would think the comedian was making factual allegations against Moore, the AP reports.

"The court agrees that Judge Moore’s claims are barred by the unambiguous contractual language, which precludes the very causes of action he now brings," Cronan wrote. The lawsuit centered on Moore's unwitting appearance on the comic's Who Is America? show in 2018. Moore had been told he was receiving an award for supporting Israel. But in the segment, Baron Cohen appeared as a faux counterterrorism instructor discussing bogus military technology, including the supposed pedophile detector. The judge noted the absurdity of the segment in dismissing Moore’s lawsuit. "The segment was clearly a joke and no reasonable viewer would have seen it otherwise," he wrote. Moore says he plans to appeal. (Baron Cohen is suing over a cannabis billboard featuring his Borat character.)

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