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Virginia Lt. Gov. Files $400 Million Lawsuit Against CBS Over Its Coverage Of Sexual Assault Allegations Against Him
Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Shortly after it was discovered that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appeared in blackface or a KKK robe in his medical school yearbook, people began speculating he would resign and whether Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would assume the highest office in the state.

But just as those questions arose, they were shot down when Vanessa Tyson came forward to claim Fairfax had sexually assaulted her during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Then a second woman, Meredith Watson, said Fairfax had raped her while the two were students at Duke University.

Multiple media outlets tepidly covered the accusations and quickly forgot about them, since Fairfax is a Democrat. The allegations against him were also uncorroborated and amounted to a he said/she said situation.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Fairfax is suing CBS News over the way it covered the allegations against him. Fairfax is demanding $400 million from his lawsuit, alleging the news outlet defamed him and “recklessly disregarded the truth,” the Post reported.

Fairfax’s lawsuit mentions a witness could corroborate that the sexual encounter with Watson was consensual, yet CBS aired an interview with both women without speaking to that witness.

“The suit says that a top CBS attorney was a Duke classmate who had dated Watson a year before the alleged assault and remains a friend of both Fairfax and the witness. It claims that the lawyer, though not present, had been told about the sexual encounter by Fairfax and the witness, and believed it to have been consensual,” the Post reported.

Fairfax claims in his lawsuit that he “exchanged numerous text messages and had several conversations since Watson went public with her false accusation against Fairfax in February 2019. Most of these communications occurred before the April 2019 interviews were aired by the [lawyer’s] employer and client, CBS.”

The lawsuit adds that the text messages demonstrated that “Fairfax and the [lawyer] knew from both Fairfax and the eyewitness that the eyewitness was in the room throughout the encounter and that the encounter between Fairfax and Watson was completely consensual.”

The lawsuit contends that this CBS attorney did not intervene in the network’s airing of the interview with Watson, or that he was stopped from doing so.

One of Fairfax’s spokeswomen even asked Gayle King, who conducted the interviews with the women, to ask Watson if she had seen “anyone else on your way in or out” of the dorm room where the sexual encounter took place in college. This question was not asked in any part of the interview that was aired. King is also accused in the lawsuit of failing to ask Tyson, Fairfax’s other accuser, about what he says are discrepancies in her repeated tellings of the alleged sexual assault.

CBS provided a response to the lawsuit to the Post, saying, “We stand by our reporting and we will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

“CBS’ actions have exposed millions of people to lies that have done extraordinary damage to his reputation and his ability to earn a living,” the lawsuit says. “His once-promising career — a lawyer at top firms, former federal prosecutor, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, candidate for Governor of Virginia for 2021 — has been severely damaged.”

Fairfax is still considering a run for governor despite the allegations.

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