Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch, and members of the board of directors at Rupert’s Fox Corporation have been sued by a shareholder for allegedly violating what’s known as their fiduciary duty at the company through allowing the propagation through Fox News of lies and false characterizations about the 2020 presidential election. The lies have impacted Fox.
“The Board’s decision to chase viewers by promoting the false stolen election claims has exposed the Company to public ridicule and negatively impacted the credibility of Fox News as a media organization that is supposed to accurately report newsworthy events,” the lawsuit says. “The Company is now the subject of two defamation cases, with combined damages claimed to exceed $4 billion.” The case further claims that “FOX was more concerned about short-term ratings and market share than the long-term damages of its failure to tell the truth,” per portions that NBC highlighted. The filing was from a man named Robert Schwarz.
This lawsuit adds to a bevy of serious litigation Fox is already facing, including the high-profile defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, which implicates both Fox News and the parent company helmed by Rupert and will be going to trial shortly. Dominion is involved in technology for use in elections and somehow became a key figure in false conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential race from Trump and loudmouthed allies of his. Whether in behind-the-scenes comments made available from Rupert Murdoch or Sean Hannity or the newly reported audio recordings of figures including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell admitting to or at least indicating serious gaps in their evidence, it’s become clear that high-ranking figures at Fox were aware of the record proving the election claims’ falsity. And yet, the lies continued.
Dominion could be able to prove that Fox acted either with actual malice — perhaps to boost the network’s ratings during struggles with its public image after the 2020 race — or at least a purposed ignorance of the truth. Notifications that Dominion provided to Fox after the election about the facts make it difficult for the network to claim just plain ignorance, although the accurate record of what happened in the election has been long established at this stage, making any present-day claim to the same just plain impossible. The facts are out there.
Judge Eric Davis, the Delaware judge handling the Dominion case, has already ruled that statements disputed from Fox were false, so now at trial, the network will need to provide an explanation better than Dominion’s arguments, assuming those are pretty solid. They’ve sought to use arguments of free speech and journalistic ambition so far for having shared what the conspiracy-minded figures were saying — although they also at times provided apparent support for the damaging conspiracy theories. Notably, Davis is also allowing Murdoch’s potential testimony at trial, although he already sat for a deposition.