Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch, pictured above in 2019 in Sun Valley, Idaho, has threatened to file a defamation lawsuit against an Australian news outlet over a commentary written on June 29th concerning Fox’s rhetoric. With the argument that “freedom of the press is vital to our democracy and must be safeguarded,” Fox News is defending itself against two defamation lawsuits in the United States.
Getty Images/Drew Angerer Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO and executive chairman of Fox Corp., has threatened legal action against an Australian news outlet on top of the two multibillion dollar defamation lawsuits he is already defending against Fox News in the United States.
The threat is a result of articles accusing him of being behind network propaganda that encouraged the siege of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Bring it on, says Australian political news website Crikey.
Peter Fray, editor-in-chief of Crikey, tells NPR from Sydney that Lachlan Murdoch “appears frantic to dissociate himself from the conduct of Fox in encouraging the January 6th rebellion.” He is also making exceptional efforts to stifle public discourse in this nation.
Fray claims that his news outlet did not actually claim that Murdoch directly incited violence on that particular day. But “the buck needs to stop someplace,” argues Fray.
As a result, Fray and Eric Beecher, the chairman of Private Media, the parent company of Crikey, declare in full-page advertisements that they welcomed Rupert Murdoch’s threat of a lawsuit, which are scheduled to run today in The New York Times and the Canberra Times in the Australian capital city.
MEDIA The two men claimed in the written language of their advertisement that they wanted it to act as a test of Australia’s “overly restrictive” defamation laws. According to Australian law and precedent, it is far simpler for a plaintiff to win a defamation suit than it would be in a comparable case in the United States – and far more difficult for news websites to defend against.
Fox Corp yesterday declined to comment on the conflict with Crikey.
Murdoch’s concerns stemmed from a post published on June 29 that was influenced by information concerning the actions taken by former President Donald Trump and his friends prior to the uprising at the US Congress the previous year.
Fox was listed as one of Trump’s top sympathizers by Crikey’s political editor, who called Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch “unindicted co-conspirators” in the siege due to Fox’s frequent use of inflammatory language.
Beecher and Fray wrote, “We at Crikey passionately support public interest journalism and freedom of opinion.”
MEDIA The two men claimed they made the decision to make all of Crikey’s legal requests, accusations, and responses public “so people can judge your allegations for themselves.”
A PAIR OF DEFAMATION SUITS ARISING AGAINST FOX NEWS IN THE U.S. The controversy arises as Fox News publicly invokes free speech principles in an effort to defend itself against two multibillion dollar defamation lawsuits brought by American electoral technology and voting system corporations.
According to Fox News, “press freedom is fundamental to our democracy and must be defended” in reaction to the two cases.
Additionally, the network described the $4 billion in damages claimed as “nothing more than a brazen attempt to stop our journalists from performing their jobs.”
A day after Bernard Keane, the political editor of Crikey, published a column on June 29 suggesting a connection between Fox’s programming and Trump’s behavior, Lachlan Murdoch’s Australian media lawyer John Churchill sent a letter threatening legal action and demanding an apology.
By directly linking Murdoch to the attacks on January 6th, Churchill claimed that Crikey had launched a “unwarranted attack” that was “malicious and aggravates the harm.”
Crikey removed the post and claimed that it was doing so out of courtesy. However, an explanation was never given, and early last month, Crikey reposted Keane’s column.
The encounter, according to its officials, was just one of many times Murdoch tried to intimidate the news website, they told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australia continues to be crucial to the Murdochs and is a repeating theme in many of their dramas, both private and public.
Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan’s father, was born there and built the foundation of his wealth there thanks to a little newspaper his father in Adelaide gave him. Almost two decades ago, Lachlan left his father’s media business in Manhattan due to internal conflict and traveled to Australia in an effort to establish himself. Australian-born wife of Lachlan. He is a citizen of Australia and calls it his home.
Despite his homecoming, Lachlan relocated to Sydney with his wife and kids during the pandemic. He now assists in leading the family media company. They remain residing there.
Fox Corp. and Fox News have defended their coverage of unproven allegations of voter fraud involving the election technology firms Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic by claiming that the network was merely reporting on interesting, if untrue, statements made by the then-president Donald Trump and his allies.
There was no appreciable electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential contest, according to Republican and Democratic election officials at the local, state, and federal levels. Many of the judges who rendered decisions against the Trump campaign’s legal challenges of the election results were judges who Trump himself selected.
Chris Stirewalt, a former political editor for Fox News, gets sworn in on June 13 in Washington, D.C., during a meeting of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. Getty Images/Jabin Botsford remove caption
switch to caption Getty Images/Jabin Botsford
Chris Stirewalt, a former political editor for Fox News, gets sworn in on June 13 in Washington, D.C., during a meeting of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Getty Images/Jabin Botsford Similar to this, Bernard Gugar, general counsel for Fox News in New York City, filed a formal complaint in September against the two-part documentary “Fox and the Big Lie” on Four Corners on the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The documentary concentrated on Fox’s coverage after the 2020 elections, which it said helped Trump spread incorrect information. Gugar, however, claimed that the documentary was untrue and biased.
His first qualm was that it claimed to rely on network “insiders.” He pointed out that among the six ex-Fox News employees who spoke with ABC were those who had left the company as early as 2016 and 2017, as well as its former politics editor, who had been fired several months before to the election. (Fox infuriated Trump by being the first to predict that he would lose Arizona on election night in November 2020; this was done by their decision desk.)
Two persons with knowledge of the situation claim that the ABC’s internal body that considers outside concerns dismissed the complaint. Following that, Fox complained to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the body in charge of regulating broadcasting there. The regulator hasn’t taken any action yet.
THE STUPID COLUMN THAT CAUSED THE SPAT The newest spat between the Murdochs and the Australian media centers on a post written by Bernard Keane, politics editor of Crikey, on June 29 that was motivated by the information provided by the House Select Committee looking into the uprising of January 6.
It’s unclear from Keane’s two allusions to a Murdoch whether the first one was directed at Lachlan or Rupert.
Unmistakably a piece of political criticism, the column’s headline refers to Trump as “a certified insane traitor” and continues, “Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator.”
In order to argue for the Murdochs’ moral guilt, the column’s concluding sentence achieves a great rhetorical crescendo: “The Murdochs and their bevy of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing calamity.”
Fox and Murdoch’s legal representative, Churchill, claims that linking the Murdochs to such horrific crimes is unfair, untrue, and ultimately defamatory.
Fox’s legal team has begun the process of bringing legal action against Crikey. Such cases are far simpler to win in Australia than they are in the US.
According to Crikey’s Fray to NPR, “We’re not going to be intimidated by Lachlan Murdoch any more.” We felt it was crucial to stand up for free speech and independent journalism, causes Lachlan Murdoch, his father Rupert, and even his grandfather over the years have supported.