Pension funds in New York City and Oregon have sued Fox, alleging that the company harmed investors by allowing Fox News to broadcast falsehoods about the 2020 election that exposed the network to defamation suits.
The lawsuit, filed in Delaware, accuses Fox of stoking defamation claims by amplifying conspiracy theories about the election, including one in which Fox News agreed to settle nearly $800 million with Dominion Voting Systems, a manufacturer of voting machines.
“The Fox board blatantly ignored the need for journalistic standards and failed to put safeguards in place despite having a business model that invites defamation lawsuits,” said Brad Lander, the New York Comptroller who manages the city’s pension funds.
A Fox spokesman declined to comment.
Pension funds are long-term shareholders in Fox, with shares worth $28.1 million at the end of July. Oregon owns stock in the company worth about $5.2 million.
The complaint, which does not specify the damages it seeks, alleges that Fox’s board decided to broadcast Donald Trump’s lies in order to please his supporters, knowing that doing so would expose the company to lawsuits.
“Defendants chose to bring aggressive defamation claims, with the potential for significant financial liability and even greater commercial ramifications, rather than disappoint Fox News viewers,” the lawsuit says.
In April, Fox News agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million to avoid trial in a lawsuit that would have exposed how the network promoted lies about the 2020 election.
Dominion argued that Fox News damaged its reputation by broadcasting false conspiracy theories that its equipment switched votes from Trump to Joe Biden.
Lachlan Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of Fox he said when the settlement was announced It avoided “the intensity of a contentious trial and multi-year appeals process, a decision that clearly serves the interests of the company and its shareholders.”
Another voting machine company, Smartmatic USAShe sued Fox News over its coverage of election conspiracy theories.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Fox breached her fiduciary duties by ignoring legal risks.
“The directors’ choices exposed themselves and the company to liability and exposed shareholders to significant risks,” she said. “This is the essence of our lawsuit, and we look forward to making our case in court.”
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