Why Rupert Murdoch Says He’s Not Liable For Fox News Election Lies

  • Rupert Murdoch admitted Fox News hosts endorsed falsehoods about the 2020 election.
  • Murdoch is chairman of Fox Corporation, which claims not to be responsible for claims against its subsidiary Fox News.
  • Dominion Voting Systems is suing both Fox News and Fox Corporation for libel.

Rupert Murdoch said in an excerpt made public last week that hosts on Fox News endorsed the “false idea of ​​a stolen election.”

He seemed almost happy to admit it.

A number of media outlets treated Murdoch’s statement as a “gotcha” moment. Here was the chairman of Fox Corporation, a 91-year-old mogul atop a conservative media empire, who admitted to telling lies that damaged democracy.

His comments came out as part of a lawsuit between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox. Dominion is suing Fox Corporation and Fox News Network, arguing they defamed the election technology company by allowing then-President Donald Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell to spread conspiracy theories over the air.

When asked by Dominion lawyers in January if he thought Fox’s hosts were being truthful about the election, Murdoch was candid.

When asked if Lou Dobbs — whose show on Fox Business Network was canceled after Trump left office — was lying, Murdoch replied, “Oh, a lot.”

When asked about host Maria Bartiromo, Murdoch said, “Yeah. Come on.”

But according to Murdoch none of that matters. He doesn’t think Fox Corporation should have anything to do with the defamation case.

Fox Corporation says it had nothing to do with what hosts said on Fox News

Fox News Network is the corporate entity that broadcasts Fox News and Fox Business News, which Dominion claims hosts are spreading lies about its election technology.

Murdoch is the chairman of Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News. Fox Corporation also operates subsidiaries such as Fox Sports, a host of local TV stations, TMZ, Tubi, and a blockchain company. Rupert’s son Lachlan Murdoch is the CEO of the Fox Corporation.

According to Fox Corporation, it doesn’t matter what Rupert Murdoch thinks or doesn’t think about what happens at Fox News because he doesn’t exercise granular editorial control at Fox News. Fox Corporation should not be involved in Dominion’s lawsuit at all, the company argues.

Under ordinary corporate law and Supreme Court precedent stemming from New York Times v. Sullivan – the granddaddy of US libel law – a parent company is not automatically liable for the companies it covers.

“The assumption has always been that it must be the creator of the story who must know that it is untrue to support a judgment under the Sullivan standard,” said Frederick Schauer, a First Amendment scholar and a professor at the University of Virginia. School of Law, Insider told.

Fox news

Images of Fox News personalities Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Maria Bartiromo, Stuart Varney, Neil Cavuto and Charles Payne appear outside News Corporation headquarters.

AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey

To win the case against Fox Corporation, Dominion must prove that the Murdochs were directly involved in the alleged defamatory statements. According to Clay Calvert, professor emeritus at the University of Florida and First Amendment scholar, Murdoch’s “personal views on those statements are irrelevant” if he didn’t exercise editorial control at Fox News in the first place.

“Neither Rupert, Lachlan Murdoch, nor anyone else at Fox Corporation played any role in the creation or publication of the statements that Dominion disputes,” Fox Corporation lawyers wrote in a document made public last week.

By suing Fox Corporation, and not just the Fox News Network, Dominion can “go after another pot of money,” according to Calvert.

Individual Fox News hosts who were themselves impeached — Dobbs, Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity — all said they didn’t talk to the Murdochs about conspiracy theories for the 2020 election.

“I can say unequivocally that no one at Fox tried to force me to take a specific position on Sidney Powell or any other feature of the 2020 election,” Carlson said in his statement, quoted in Fox Corporation’s filing. “I made these ratings independently and I think the record will reflect that because it’s true.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever met Mr. Dobbs,” Murdoch said in another part of his statement, quoted in the Fox Corporation filing.

That leaves the issue of liability for Fox Corporation’s subsidiary, the Fox News Network. For its part, Fox News Network says it simply reported the news in a manner protected by the First Amendment, and that Dominion has an “extreme, unsupported view of defamation law,” the company said in a statement.

Dominion claims the Murdochs controlled editorial decisions at Fox News

In documents, Dominion has argued that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch are heavily involved in editorial decisions in Fox News and should be held accountable for what happens on the network.

The Murdochs often used Scott as a proxy to carry out their orders, Dominion alleged in lawsuits last month. While Fox News ratings plummeted when the network announced that Biden had won Arizona’s Electoral College votes, Rupert Murdoch spoke about how to adjust the channel’s coverage, according to data obtained by Dominion.

He also told Scott to “keep a close eye on Sean” and make sure Hannity didn’t support Trump’s lie that he was the real winner of the presidential election.

Around the time of the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Murdoch and Scott were discussing whether the network’s main hosts should “say some version of ‘The election is over and Joe Biden won'” but decided not to. do, messages obtained by Dominion show.

The elder Murdoch even seemed to decide to allow Carlson to interview Mike Lindell, another election conspiracy theorist who is being sued by Dominion. Asked why Lindell was on the network, Murdoch said in his statement, “The guy is there every night. Pays us a lot of money.”

“It’s not red or blue, it’s green,” Murdoch added.

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch.

Al Bello/Getty Images

As for Lachlan Murdoch, Dominion says he was deeply involved in decisions about which guests could or could not appear on Fox News, suggested specific questions to ask guests, and even changed the tone and length of chyrons and whether they were too “anti hostile”. Trump.”

Lachlan said in his statement that he led Scott to “specific direction to both the tone and story of Fox’s coverage” and that he expected her to listen to him.

“During his statement, Lachlan could not recall a single instance where FNN failed to follow any of his suggestions,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in a document.

Dominion also states that Fox Corporation board members have played a role in shaping Fox News coverage, including former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, former Trump administration communications director Raj Shah, and Patriot Act architect Viet Dinh.

On November 20, Shah communicated with a producer on Carlson’s show about whether or not to deal with an affidavit that Sidney Powell offered as evidence of fraud, according to reports obtained by Dominion.

“Maybe I want to discuss this, but this stuff is so damn insane,” Shah said in a text message to one of Tucker Carlson’s producers. “Vote fraud for millions? Come on.”

“It’s totally insane…,” he said in another message a day later, as quoted in Dominion’s file. “This is an attempt to discredit her as it is just MIND BLOWINGLY NUTS.”

Leave a Comment