Former race car driver and local TV personality Derek Daly filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit yesterday against WISH (Indianapolis) and parent company Nexstar, claiming the station inaccurately reported his connection to the use of a racial slur.
The Indianapolis Star reports that last August, WISH fired Daly as a racing analyst and IndyCar expert after saying it had determined he was the source of the racial slur that led to the retirement of long-time Indianapolis Colts broadcaster Bob Lamey.
According to the filing, Daly is seeking punitive damages on top of the $25 million after WISH made “statements which they knew, or should have known, were false and defamatory” and that caused Daly to “suffer damages to his reputation and loss of income.”
Since being fired by WISH, Daly, who is also a motivational speaker, has had all of his speaking engagements canceled, he said. He said he also had to close his office and lay off his personal assistant of 10 years.
“Reputation is really the most valuable thing any of us have,” Daly told IndyStar in an exclusive interview. “For someone to take it away and to smear it like WISH did … Well, I believed from the beginning that a suit would be my only means of fighting back, to right this wrong.”
Daly’s suit alleges that he was fired because Lamey inaccurately attributed a racial slur to him during the retelling of a story from the 1980s.WISH-TV reported on its website and on the air the night of Aug. 22, 2018, that Daly was the source of the slur.
“WISH-TV has learned that the original story and offensive language came from racing analyst Derek Daly,” WISH anchor Brooke Martin said. “It was a story Daly told Lamey during a live radio interview in the early 1980s. We spoke with Daly and he confirmed he was the source of Lamey’s story.”
Daly alleges there are multiple inaccuracies in the WISH report. He said he was not the source of the racial slur Lamey's used. To his best recollection, he said, he has never been interviewed by Lamey. Daly also said WISH never explicitly asked him if he was the source of Lamey’s slur, so there’s no way he could have confirmed it. Had they asked, he said, he would have said, "No."
Daly did admit uttering a slur
Daly did admit to WISH that he had used the n-word during an interview in the early 1980s. He said that he told WISH the conversation including n-word was with then-IMS radio announcer Larry Henry. Larry Henry backed up Daly’s story when contacted by IndyStar in August.
In a statement released after he was fired, the Ireland-born Daly apologized for using the slur and explained his ignorance of the word’s meaning at the time.
"I was explaining that I was a foreign driver now in America, driving for an American team, with an American crew, and with an American sponsor – and that if things did not go well, the only 'n-word in the wood pile' would be me.
After publishing the initial story of Daly's firing on Aug. 22, WISH updated its story the following day with a new statement:
"WISH-TV stands by our reporting on this matter. News 8 journalists accurately reported what Daly shared with us on Wednesday. Daly confirmed to WISH-TV that his comments from the early 1980s led to the Lamey controversy.”
That online article has since been taken down.
According to the filing, Daly sent a letter to WISH-TV's general manager and news director on Aug. 24, 2018, requesting a full retraction and to discontinue making further defamatory statements about him.
The suit alleges that WISH did not issue any retraction and continued to "repeat the same false and defamatory statements about Daly. As a result of the false and defamatory statements of Defendants, Plaintiff Derek Daly suffered damages to his reputation and loss of income."
Daly added that he believes himself to be unhirable by any media outlet at this point.
IndyStar has reached out to WISH and Nexstar for comment on this story and is awaiting reply.
Full story at Indy Star