Hunter Biden sues Fox News over mock trial program

FILE - Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, Dec. 13, 2023. An FBI informant has been charged with lying to his handler about ties between Joe Biden and son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company. Prosecutors said Thursday that Alexander Smirnov falsely told FBI agents in June 2020 that executives associated with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid Hunter and Joe Biden $5 million each in 2015 and 2016.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana. File)
Hunter Biden, son of President Biden. (Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

Hunter Biden is suing Fox News over a fictional series that depicted a mock trial playing out his legal troubles.

The son of President Biden filed the suit Monday in the New York State Supreme Court. Biden's lawsuit asserts that Fox News defamed him in a six-part series shown on its streaming platform Fox Nation called "The Trial of Hunter Biden: A Mock Trial for the American People."

The 2022 series featured Judge Joe Brown, a syndicated TV jurist, presiding over a dramatized court proceeding showing Biden on trial for bribery and illegal financial dealings with foreign governments. Biden has never been indicted on such charges.

The series opened with a disclaimer noting that viewers were not seeing a real trial and that Biden had not been charged with any of the crimes portrayed in the program. But the series did use actual emails and images from Biden's laptop to make the case against him.

The program cast some figures in the Biden story to play themselves, such as the owner of the Delaware computer repair shop where the president's son abandoned his laptop.

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"While using certain true information, the series intentionally manipulates the facts, distorts the truth, narrates happenings out of context, and invents dialogue intended to entertain," the suit said. "Thus, the viewer of the series cannot decipher what is fact and what is fiction, which is highly damaging to Mr. Biden."

The series also used nude photos of Biden, some of which showed him engaged in sex acts, which were taken from the laptop and leaked. The suit alleges that the use of the photos are in violation of New York state's revenge porn law.

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Biden, who was convicted of federal gun charges last month, is seeking an unspecified amount of punitive damages from Fox News. He is being represented by high-profile celebrity law firm Geragos & Geragos.

Fox News removed the series from the Fox Nation platform on April 30, a day after the law firm sent a letter threatening legal action. But Biden's attorneys said promotional materials related to it remain available on various social media platforms.

The suit comes while President Biden's campaign is still reeling from his disastrous debate performance Thursday against his November election opponent, former President Trump. A Fox News spokesperson said Monday that the lawsuit is a politically motivated move.

“The core complaint stems from a 2022 streaming program that Mr. Biden did not complain about until sending a letter in late April 2024,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The program was removed within days of the letter, in an abundance of caution, but Hunter Biden is a public figure who has been the subject of multiple investigations and is now a convicted felon. Consistent with the First Amendment, Fox News has accurately covered the newsworthy events of Mr. Biden’s own making.”

Although the Hunter Biden series was fictional, his attorneys compared the series to Fox News' coverage of the 2020 election results, which resulted in the company having to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion alleged that Fox News damaged the company’s reputation when the network repeatedly spread falsehoods about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.