An appeals court on Thursday dismissed the $95 million libel lawsuit that former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore filed against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen over the satirical television series ” Who Is America? “.
Moore sued Cohen, CBS and Showtime for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud after an unflattering appearance in a 2018 episode that mocked her allegations of sexual misconduct. He said he was tricked into the interview. In dismissing the lawsuit, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Manhattan Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision. Neither Moore nor representatives for Cohen responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment.
On “Who is America?” Cohen donned disguises to talk with (and parody) American politicians and conservative figures. In the episode in question, Cohen poses as fictional Israeli counterterrorism expert Erran Morad and interviews Moore, to whom he presents a wand-like device that he says can detect “sex offenders and especially pedophiles.” “. It begins to beep when Cohen waves it over Moore, a reference to a series of post investigative reports from late 2017 in which several women shared accounts of Moore chasing them when they were teenagers and were stalking. he was in his thirties. The former judge lost a special election to take a Senate seat in December 2017.
Cohen — known for ridiculing prominent figures, often playing his characters Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev and Brüno Gehard — won the first round of the legal battle when a DC district judge in April 2019 upheld the validity of the consent agreement signed by Moore and ruled that the defamation case be moved to New York. Moore previously said in a statement that he believed he was being flown to Washington, DC, to “receive an award for my strong support for Israel.”
In July 2021, U.S. District Judge John P. Cronan of New York dismissed the lawsuit, which also contained allegations of emotional distress and fraud by Moore’s wife. Cronan, pointing to the waiver Moore signed before the interview, said Cohen’s claims were “clearly a joke and no reasonable viewer would have seen it otherwise.”
The summary order of the court of appeal agreed that “the segment at issue was clearly comedy”.
“Baron Cohen may have implied (despite his denials of any belief that Judge Moore was a paedophile) that he believed Judge Moore’s accusers,” the court document states, “but he did not imply the existence of an independent factual basis for this belief in addition to the obviously preposterous pedophile detection “device” that no reasonable person would believe to be real, working technology.