Former American Idol contestant and Middle Tennessee resident Corey Clark is suing Viacom and MTV in a $42.2 million libel suit, claiming the two entities have continued to drag his name through the mud.
Clark first made headlines in 2003 after he was disqualified from the popular FOX talent show. During a TV special on ABC two years later, he claimed he had a romantic relationship with Idol judge Paula Abdul. Expectedly, the headlines kept coming.
But now Clark is claiming that a MTV News reporter continued to disseminate false and libelous statements about him years after his time in the spotlight. Clark filed the lawsuit against MTV and parent company Viacom in U.S. District Court in Nashville on Thursday seeking to rectify the alleged damages.
According to the lawsuit, MTV News reporter Jim Cantiello repeatedly appeared on TV and posted articles online that rehashed false information about Clark. For instance, Cantiello referred to Clark as an “alleged sister-beater” in 2007 — four years after domestic assault charges against Clark were dropped for lack of evidence.
“Defendants’ statement that characterized Plaintiff as an ‘alleged sister-beater’ was made for an improper reason, that is, to expose Plaintiff to ridicule, contempt and disgrace years after he had been exonerated by the State for a charge that never should have been brought in the first instance,” the lawsuit, filed by New York attorney James Freeman, said.
The suit accuses MTV and Cantiello of defamation, trade libel (for calling Clark’s music “laughably bad” in the context of a news setting), misappropriation of image, trade malpractice, false light invasion of privacy and injurious falsehood.
The lawsuit claimed Clark’s disqualification from American Idol was “orchestrated and exploited for maximum media exposure” and that MTV News frequently provided fair coverage of Clark. But the suit said Cantiello had a “vicious campaign to expose Plaintiff to contempt, hatred, disgrace and aversion.”
Clark allegedly attempted to contact Viacom and MTV about the libelous claims and threatened legal action, but they didn’t retract any of the comments.
Part of Clark’s argument claims that MTV News provides objective coverage on many music industry and social issues — and that the inclusion of “tabloid journalism” in a reputable news organization proves the company’s malice.
A call to MTV Press Director Mariana Agathoklis was unreturned as of Friday afternoon.