Fox News host Eric Bolling suing journalist for $50 million over lewd texting story

A lawsuit, a suspension: Bad week for Fox News
A lawsuit, a suspension: Bad week for Fox News

Fox News host Eric Bolling is suing a journalist who reported last week that Bolling had sent lewd messages to female colleagues years ago.

HuffPost contributing writer Yashar Ali revealed Wednesday that he had been sent a summons by lawyers for Bolling. The summons alleges that Ali defamed Bolling, and says Bolling is seeking "an amount not less than $50 million."

Ali told CNNMoney he first learned about the summons through a reporter.

"I stand by my reporting + will protect my sources," Ali wrote in a tweet responding to the summons.

Ali added in a follow up tweet: "It's important to note that Bolling's summons does not include HuffPost - he is coming after me personally. I'm a big boy...but very telling."

Michael Bowe, an attorney for Bolling, told CNNMoney, "This anonymously sourced and uncorroborated story is false, defamatory, and obviously intended to destroy this good man's career and family. We will defend Eric aggressively in court, where actual facts, based on evidence, testimony, and cross-examination, will belie these anonymous accusations."

Bolling himself tweeted Wednesday evening, "I will continue to fight against these false smear attacks! THANK YOU FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT."

Fox News said over the weekend that Bolling had been suspended "pending the results of an investigation." Asked for comment about the lawsuit, a Fox News spokesperson did not provide further comment other than noting he is still suspended.

Related: Eric Bolling suspended from Fox News amid lewd texting scandal

The suspension came after Ali cited more than a dozen sources on Friday to report that Bolling sent female colleagues an "unsolicited" photo of his genitals. Bolling's attorney, Michael Bowe, has said, "The anonymous, uncorroborated claims are untrue and terribly unfair."

A HuffPost spokesperson said in a statement, "Yashar Ali is a careful and meticulous reporter. We stand by his reporting." HuffPost Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen said in a tweet that "[w]e have no hesitation about standing by him financially in this case."

Ali told CNNMoney that he has his own lawyer.

Bolling was a co-host of "The Five," Fox's weekday roundtable, and when "The Five" was moved to 9 p.m. in the spring, Bolling stayed at 5 p.m. as the leader of a new show called "The Specialists."

It's been just over a year since former Fox host Gretchen Carlson sent shock waves through the network by suing then-CEO Roger Ailes. She accused him of firing her after she refused his "sexual advances."

Others at Fox News later came forward with similar claims, and Ailes left the company on July 21, 2016.

Reports also began surfacing last fall that more sexual harassment allegations were being aimed at longtime Fox News star Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly consistently denied the allegations, but was eventually fired from the network.

A host on Fox Business, Charles Payne, was suspended last month amid a harassment investigation. He has not yet returned to work. Payne denied the allegations and called them an "ugly lie."

All of these cases have provoked uncomfortable questions about Fox's corporate culture and about whether management tolerated improper behavior for many years.

21st Century Fox says it has made sweeping changes to its human resources practices as a result of the Ailes scandal. The allegations involving Payne and Bolling date back to before Ailes resigned.

--CNN's Jackie Wattles and Brian Stelter contributed to this story.

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