We wrote this week about many of the troubling aspects of the Bait Car TV show on truTV, which is currently airing episodes filmed in San Francisco. Among the more maddening facets for the people on the show is that it calls them "car thieves," even after their charges are dismissed.
The show tries to cover itself by flashing a disclaimer: "All individuals on this show are considered innocent until proven guilty." Still, media experts told the SF Weekly that these people have a potential defamation lawsuit for being falsely portrayed.
It certainly wouldn't be the first time truTV has come up against such an allegation.
In a suit filed in November,
a Las Vegas woman Tina Vlijter accused truTV's "Inside American Jail"
of defaming her by showing her drunkenly flirting and unbuttoning her
shirt to show her ample bosom to jail staff at Clark County Detention
Center. (The clip lives on via YouTube.) Vlijter claims she didn't sign a waiver to appear on the show, and if she did she was too drunk to know it.
Not having a signed release didn't stop the network from
airing people in San Francisco. Cullen Farrell, who we talked to for our
story, refused to sign truTV's release, but was still put on the show
with his first name bleeped out. He and other people shown in the San
Francisco episodes say the producer presented them with the waiver soon
after their arrest, and never touched on the fine print.
prohibits people from suing the network or the police, and bans subjects from talking to the press about the show.
In the American Jail case, Vlijter requested Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of
truTV, turn over the footage and the consent waiver. But as of the
filing of the lawsuit, Turner had not responded.
She's suing for
punitive damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional