Cold Hearted Snake: Former American Idol Contestant Files Libel Suit Against MTV and Viacom

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Former American Idol contestant Corey Clark filed a libel lawsuit on Thursday, July 6 in the Middle District of Tennessee against MTV Networks Enterprises Inc. and its parent company Viacom International Inc., claiming that he was repeatedly defamed by an MTV news reporter.

Clark was a contestant on season two of the popular televised singing competition American Idol.  He was disqualified in 2003 after Idol officials learned that Clark had failed to disclose that he had been arrested in Topeka, Kansas, and that he had pending charges against him. One of these charges included a battery charge involving his sister. According toClark, two of the charges, including the battery charge, were dropped.Clark pled no contest to the charge for resisting arrest.

Later, in 2005, Clark publicly announced that he had a sexual relationship with Idol judge Paula Abdul while he was on the show.

In his complaint, Clark claims that MTV reporter Jim Cantiello used his position at the network to “write a continuous, one-sided stream of defamatory material about plaintiff and make disparaging remarks about plaintiff’s musical compositions that had no bearing whatsoever to any contemporaneous news event or occurrence.” The complaint notes that Cantiello, unlike other MTV reporters, had no formal journalistic training, and therefore did not adhere to the ethical canons required by the profession. Additionally, Clark argues that MTV should not have held Cantiello out as a reporter when he lacked the requisite training for the title.

In a series of online posts from 2007-2011, Cantiello allegedly defamed the singer, describing Clark as a “degenerate” and a “liar.” According to the complaint, Cantiello also falsely called Clark a “sister-beater” after the charges were dropped, and encouraged readers to boycott Clark’s album.

One Cantiello article looked back at the careers of the ninth-place Idol contestants in the music industry. In this July 2011 article, Cantiello suggested that Clark was lying about his relationship with Abdul and also said that Clark’s music was “laughably bad.” Further, Cantiello falsely stated that Clark had been disqualified for “lying about a hairy domestic dispute.”

Clark argued that these statements made it appear as though he had lied to producers, rather than remaining silent when asked about an arrest for which he had not been convicted.

Further, Clarkclaims he was ridiculed on a Viacom VH1 special called Embarrassing Moments 2. According to Clark, a segment of this program called Clark a hoax who made up his relationship with Abdul. Clark asserts that the relationship with Abdul was romantic and real.

The complaint lists claims for libel, commercial disparagement, misappropriation of image or likeness, and trade malpractice.Clarkis requesting damages in the amount of over $40 million.

“American Idol” Contestant Sues MTV for $40 million

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