Media outlets and others scrambled this week after a white pregnant woman was widely vilified on social media as a racist after a video went viral of a confrontation over a bike, and the woman’s lawyer has said they plan to file defamation lawsuits.
Since the video went viral, garnering more than 40 million views, the woman, Sarah Comrie, was placed on leave from Bellevue Hospital, where she worked. A lawyer for Comrie has since produced receipts he says shows that she paid for the bike, which contradicts the widely circulated claim that she “stole” the bike from the group.
“We are gonna get an answer when we start filing defamation lawsuits,” lawyer Justin Marino told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer Friday. “She’s been called a racist, she’s been called a thief, there are reasons defamation laws exist, and we plan to pursue that.”
“She’s been called a racist. She’s been called a thief. There are reasons defamation laws exist, and we plan to pursue that.”
Lawyer for woman at the center of viral Citi Bike video is planning to sue the media. pic.twitter.com/ZLUB8ehKwx
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) May 19, 2023
“She’s received death threats,” Marino said. “She’s in hiding. What’s at play is what social media did to this woman who’s literally a hero, and has done nothing but help people and within one minute effectively tries to ruin her life.”
Marino has shown media outlets two timestamped Citi Bike receipts only minutes apart; the first purportedly represented the contested bike while the second was for another bike the woman rented to get home, and it showed the 25-minute ride she took to get home.
Despite the limited context shown in the video, many on social media and some media outlets quickly ran with the framing that Comrie had tried to steal the bike from the black man, labeling her a “Karen.” The outlet “Bicycling,” a cycling magazine published by Hearst Communications, ran a headline entitled “‘Pregnant NYC Karen’ on Video Trying To Steal a Black Man’s Citi Bike” that described Comrie as “the aggressor.”
“Many Black people have voiced their disdain about white privilege and how it can be weaponized to cause harm and in ill-fated circumstances, possibly even a loss of life,” the article begins.
“Her screams for help, despite not being in harm’s way, is the definition of white privilege,” the article, which appears to have been deleted, continues. “Again declarations for help, even though she is the aggressor.”
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Lawyer Ben Crump, who has been involved in some of the most controversial cases involving police in recent history, said in a now-deleted tweet that Comrie had tried to “steal” the bike.
“This is unacceptable! A white woman was caught on camera attempting to STEAL a Citi Bike from a young Black man in NYC. She grossly tried to weaponize her tears to paint this man as a threat. This is EXACTLY the type of behavior that has endangered so many Black men in the past!”
NBC News also came under fire for its coverage of the incident, writing in an initial tweet that the video “appeared to show her attempting to take a rental bike from a group of young Black men.”
The tweet, which had reader context added to it, was followed up by another adding that the lawyer had come forward with receipts for the bikes that appeared to show the woman had paid for the bike in question.
Insider reported that the video showed “a white woman apparently trying to take a rental bike from a Black man.”
Other headlines framed against the woman were Distractify’s “Woman Tries ‘Weaponizing’ Her Tears in Bike Dispute, Immediately Stops When It Doesn’t Work,” Black America Web’s “‘Citi Bike Karen’ Reminds Us That Carolyn Bryant Donham’s Sordid Legacy Lives On,” and Black Enterprise’s “Nurse Sheds White Woman Tears in an Attempt to Steal a City Bike from a Black Man.”